The NTSB's Summary of US Civil Aviation Accidents for Calendar
Year 2012 reviews all civil aviation accidents that occurred between January 1,
2012, and December 31, 2012. This summary combines accidents involving air
carriers (regulated by Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Part 121),
commuter and on-demand carriers (regulated by 14 CFR Part 135) and general
aviation (regulated by 14 CFR Part 91). This report is published before the
adoption of the probable cause for all accidents that were reviewed. (Probable cause information
can be found here.
Civil aviation in the United States encompasses a broad variety of aircraft
and pilots, flying for many different purposes. These operations can range from
light-sport and private flights to commercial air carrier operations. The safety
of civil aviation in the United States is regulated by the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA). The FAA distinguishes between commercial and general
aviation operations. Commercial operations generally involve carriers that
operate aircraft in revenue service, for the purpose of either passenger or
cargo transport. These carriers are regulated by Parts 121 and 135.
Most air carriers regulated by Part 121 fly large, transport-category
aircraft for the purpose of passenger travel. However, some carriers operating
under Part 121 transport cargo only. Both passenger and all-cargo Part 121
carriers normally conduct operations in controlled airspace and at specific,
uncontrolled airports that are able to provide certain weather, maintenance, and
operational equipment and support.
Part 135 applies to commuter and on-demand operations, which may involve
takeoffs and landings at airports that do not have the services required by Part
121. Part 135 contains different regulatory requirements than those for Part 121
Part 121 and Part 135 operations can be further classified into scheduled and
non-scheduled services. Scheduled operators offer set departure locations,
departure times, and arrival locations in advance of each flight's departure.
Non-scheduled operators, or on-demand operators, do not operate from set
locations at set times, but instead rely on their customers to determine the
departure and arrival locations and times. Examples of non-scheduled operations
include some Part 121 cargo operations, Part 135 air taxi operations, and
certain emergency medical transport operations.
In contrast, general aviation operations encompass all those not covered by
Part 121 or Part 135 (or those covered by Part 129, which applies to foreign
carriers operating in US airspace). Whereas Parts 121 and 135 apply to specific
types of operations, general aviation encompasses a wide variety of operations,
involving an even wider array of aircraft. General aviation includes all
non-commercial operations, including flying for pleasure and business, along
with very specific commercial operations, such as flight training and banner- or
glider-towing. Accidents in each segment of civil aviation will be discussed in
subsequent sections of this report.
Some of the statistical summaries presented here use accident categories that
were developed by the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST)/International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO) Common Taxonomy Team (CICTT). CICTT category
development focuses on coding aircraft accident occurrences and phases of flight
in a standardized and logical manner. In categorizing US civil aviation
accidents, the NTSB can use multiple CICTT categories to describe each aircraft
involved in an accident. For ease of use, the NTSB identifies one occurrence as
the defining event for each accident aircraft. This summary categorizes each
accident aircraft by its defining event and the phase of flight associated with
the defining event.
Activity data collected by the FAA for on-demand Part 135 and general
aviation were not available for use in this report for calendar year 2011.
Consequently, this summary does not provide 2012 accident rates for these groups
for that year, although counts of accidents by injury type, defining event, and
phase of flight are provided.