Airlines Recorded 31 Accidents in '87, Worst Year Since 1974

Associated Press

The scheduled U.S. airlines that fly large aircraft had 31 accidents during 1987, the highest number in 13 years, including four fatal crashes that claimed 231 lives, the federal government reported today.

The National Transportation Safety Board said that was the most accidents involving scheduled airlines since 1974, when they had 42 accidents.

Meanwhile, small private aircraft reported the fifth straight year of declining accident totals.

Commuter airlines, however, had the highest number of fatalities last year since 1979.

The NTSB, in its summary of 1987 air accidents, said 58 people died in 10 commuter airline crashes last year and 231 people died in four crashes involving larger jet aircraft.

The 231 deaths was the highest number involving scheduled jetliners in five years. There were 233 fatalities in 1982 and 351 in 1979.

The 58 deaths in commuter airline accidents was the highest number since 1979 when 66 people died in commuter crashes.

The accident rate for scheduled airlines in 1987 did not include the crash of a Pacific Southwest Airlines jet on Dec. 7 because that crash is considered to have been an act of sabotage.

The NTSB did, however, include the PSA crash, which claimed 43 lives, in its fatality total and in its list of accidents during 1987.

The other major accidents during the year were the crash of a Northwest Airlines jetliner Aug. 16 in Detroit killing 156 people; the crash of a Continental Airlines DC-9 Nov. 15 in Denver killing 28 people, and the crash of a Buffalo Airways jet April 13 in Kansas City killing all four people aboard.

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