An unusually large number of fatalities from accidents involving Part 91 business turboprops and jets thrust the number of people who lost their lives in U.S.-registered turbine business airplanes in 2019 to their highest level in recent history. According to preliminary data gathered by AIN, the 77 people who died in 16 accidents in 2019 exceeded the previous high of 76 in 2006.
In the second half of last year, there were no fatal accidents of U.S.-registered business jets, however, the 24 fatalities from accidents in the first half of 2019 was the highest number since the previous record level of 30 deaths in 2014 (all occurring under Part 91 in both years). There were no fatal charter jet accidents by U.S. or non-U.S. registered business jets in 2019.
The number of business jet fatalities last year included the reported 14 passengers and two crew who perished on May 5, 2019, when their N-numbered Challenger 601-3A crashed in Mexico on a flight from Las Vegas. There are questions that remain as to whether this flight was possibly an illegal charter and exactly how many persons were on board. At press time, Mexico’s accident investigation authority has not released an update. Until more official information is known, the accident is being classified under Part 91.
Another four accidents involving business jets flying under Part 91 accounted for the 10 remaining business jet fatalities last year. Two died in the May 22 crash of a Cessna Citation SII and a sole-occupant pilot was killed just two days later when their Citation 560 overshot its planned destination and crashed into the sea. On April 12, three were killed in the crash of a Rockwell Sabreliner, and two perished in a March 18 landing accident of an Israel Aircraft Industries Westwind 1124.
53 Killed in 11 Turboprop Crashes
Historically, fatalities from Part 91 turboprop accidents exceed those from business jets, and last year was no exception. In 2019, 52 people died in 10 Part 91 U.S.-registered turboprop accidents and one death resulted from a sole Part 135 mishap. The Part 135 accident last year was the May 13 midair collision between two tour aircraft that claimed the life of one person in a de Havilland Turbine Otter and (not shown in the charts) all five people in a piston-powered de Havilland Beaver. In 2018, six turboprop accidents (all under Part 91) were fatal to 16.
Here were the 10 Part 91 turboprop fatal accidents last year with the number of fatalities shown in parentheses: January 21, Turbine DC-3 (2); January 29, Beechcraft King Air 200 (3); February 28, Piper JetProp DLX (2); June 7, Piper JetProp DLX (4); June 10, Cessna Conquest (1); June 21, Beechcraft King Air 90 (11); June 30, Beechcraft King Air 350 (10); October 3, Daher TBM 700 (5); November 30, Pilatus PC-12 (9); and December 28, Piper Cheyenne (5).
The NTSB classified four of the accidents as personal flights, two as business flights, and one flight each as positioning, ambulance, skydiving, and corporate/executive.
In 2019, two private non-U.S. registered business jets suffered fatal accidents in which four persons died. In 2018, three private jet accidents resulted in 16 deaths. Chartered jets recorded no fatal crashes. Non-fatal accidents doubled year over year from six to 12. Meanwhile, seven accidents in 2019 involving non-N-numbered turboprops were fatal to 30, compared to 19 killed in five accidents in 2018.
Updated with corrected data on January 8 at 11:20 a.m.