Number of fatalities from airliners' hull loss accidents per year (1940–2023)
Wreckage of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, which was written off as a hull-loss accident[1]

A hull loss is an aviation accident that damages the aircraft beyond economical repair,[2] resulting in a total loss. The term also applies to situations in which the aircraft is missing, the search for their wreckage is terminated, or the wreckage is logistically inaccessible.[3] The aviation industry uses the metric of "Hull losses per 100,000 flight departures" to measure the relative risk of a given flight or aircraft.[2] There is no official ICAO or NTSB definition. [4]

From 1959 to 2006, 384 of 835 hull losses were non-fatal.[5]

Constructive hull loss takes into account other incidental expenses beyond repair, such as salvage, logistical costs of repairing non-airworthy aircraft within the confines of the incident site, and recertifying the aircraft.

Airlines typically have insurance to cover hull loss. Their policies—like many covering assets that are subject to depreciation—typically pay the insured a formulaic used-item value. A damaged aircraft will often simply be scrapped.[citation needed]


In the initial years of aviation (1900s-1920s) hull losses were common due to limited understanding of aerodynamics and aircraft technology. Pioneering aviators like the Wright Brothers and their contemporaries faced numerous accidents and losses.[6]

World War I and World War II had extensive use of military aircraft, leading to numerous hull losses in combat.[7] The post-war period witnessed the rapid development of commercial aviation.[8] The introduction of pressurized cabins, jet engines, and improved navigation systems reduced the likelihood of hull losses in commercial aviation.[citation needed]

The emergence of jet aircraft in the 1950s led to faster, more reliable, and safer aircraft.[9] However, the early years of the jet age also saw some high-profile accidents and hull losses, prompting improvements in training and safety regulations.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Norris, Guy (July 6, 2013). "NTSB Investigates Asiana 777 Accident In San Francisco". Aviation Week. McGraw Hill Financial. Archived from the original on March 8, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2013. The Asiana accident represents only the third hull loss for the 777 since the aircraft entered service in 1995.
  2. ^ a b Barnett, A. (2009). "Chapter 11. Aviation Safety and Security". In Belobaba, P.; Odoni, Amedeo; Barnhart, Cynthia (eds.). The Global Airline Industry. pp. 313–342. doi:10.1002/9780470744734.ch11. ISBN 9780470744734.
  3. ^ Jones, Richard (2011). 20% Chance of Rain: Exploring the Concept of Risk. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1118116364.
  4. ^ "Statistical Summary of Commercial Jet Airplane Accidents - Worldwide Operations | 1959-2022" (PDF). Boeing. September 2023. p. 28. Retrieved January 3, 2024.((cite web)): CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  5. ^ Rick Darby. "Fewer Fatalities in Hull Loss Accidents" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on January 30, 2021. Retrieved December 21, 2013.
  6. ^ "1901 to 1910 - The Wilbur and Orville Wright Timeline, 1846 to 1948 - Articles and Essays - Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers at the Library of Congress - Digital Collections - Library of Congress". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved September 21, 2023.
  7. ^ Ellis, John (1995). World War II: a statistical survey ; the essential facts and figures for all the combatants (Reprinted with corr ed.). New York: Facts on File. ISBN 978-0-8160-2971-6.
  8. ^ "Commercial Aviation at Mid-Century". Retrieved September 21, 2023.
  9. ^ "The Jet Age". Retrieved September 21, 2023.