Boeing 737 safety

Boeing 737 accident statistics, how safe is the aircraft?

The Boeing 737 is a very safe and frequently used aircraft type. The first flight of the 737 took place in 1967 and by 2021 there had been 221 total losses, 93 of which resulted in fatalities, totalling 5,229 deaths in accidents. Over 11,000 of the 737 were put into service. The best-known crashes in recent times were the accidents involving the Boeing 737 MAX variant, two of which were involved in accidents in 2019 and 2020 due to technical circumstances. With 346 fatalities, these two accidents were particularly tragic. This resulted in a worldwide ban on flying this type of aircraft and severely damaged the Boeing brand.

Boeing 737 crashes and accident statistics

Safety Boeing 737max

The Boeing 737 MAX is a further development of the Boeing 737 aircraft that has long been on the market. The success of Airbus with the A320neo forced Boeing to launch a new aircraft on the market, which also aimed for fuel efficiency. The tried and tested 737 model was therefore further developed in order to avoid costly pilot training or extensive certification procedures. Due to the new heavier engines, which had to be placed further forward and higher on the wing, the aircraft tended to have flight characteristics that pulled the nose upwards. Boeing therefore developed the MCAS (Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System). For cost reasons, however, the system was only controlled by one sensor. In the event of a malfunction, the nose of the aircraft could be repeatedly pushed downwards. As a result, there were two crashes in 2018 and 2019. The safety concerns led to a worldwide ban on flying the 737max, which lasted from March 2019 to November 2020. During this time, Boeing revised the MCAS system and made other improvements to the 737max to meet the safety requirements of the regulatory authorities. During the period, Boeing comprehensively revised the system. The updated MCAS now uses data from two Angle of Attack (AoA) sensors and will only activate when both sensors provide matching data. In addition, the system will no longer detect the nose of the aircraft.

Do you feel safe on an airplane?
No, I am a little queasy already
16,92 %
No, but nothing will happen
66,15 %
Yes, airplanes are a safe mode of transport
16,92 %
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Result from 65 of answers given

Seat in the Boeing 737 from a safety perspective

If you are worried about the safety of an aircraft type, you often have the fear of a crash in mind. However, it is much more likely that you will be injured due to turbulence in the aircraft. Choosing a comfortable seat is therefore the first small step towards greater safety on board the aircraft. After all, only if you are sitting comfortably and wearing your seatbelt can you avoid injury in the event of the aircraft suddenly descending. This is why it is important to consider where you want to sit in the aircraft before travelling. We have evaluated the seats on the Boeing 737-800 aircraft:

List of relevant incidents at Boeing

Extract from incidents and accidents involving the aircraft type. The list is not exhaustive and only covers accidents where a design fault or production defect led to an incident:

Date Flight Description
29th October 2018 Lion Air flight 610 On 29 October 2018, a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed off the coast of Java, killing all 189 occupants. Contact was lost shortly after take-off in Jakarta. The cause was the faulty MCAS system, which pushed the aircraft downwards.
10th March 2019 Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 On 10th March 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. All 157 occupants were killed. It was the second serious accident involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 in five months. The "Max" versions were banned from operation worldwide. In 2022, a US court ruled that a criminal conspiracy at Boeing had contributed to the crashes.
5th January 2024 Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 On 5 January 2024, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9 on a flight from Portland to Ontario, California, lost part of the aircraft wall seven minutes after take-off, causing decompression and triggering the oxygen masks. The pilot turned back and landed safely, with only one passenger suffering a hearing injury. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) temporarily grounded 171 aircraft of this type. It was later discovered that four fastening bolts were missing, which caused the accident.

Tragic accidents involving a Boeing 737

Especially when it comes to accident statistics, it is often Boeing vs. Airbus, but both manufacturers build very safe aircraft: the very first accident with fatalities was a particularly tragic one: on 8 December 1973, a United Airlines 737-200 crashed into the middle of a residential area. 43 of the 61 people on board were killed and 2 people on the ground died.

In the 1970s in particular, 737s were affected by hijackings, twice by Lufthansa. On 17 December 1973, the aircraft was hijacked at Rome-Fiumicino Airport by Palestinian terrorists. The aim was to free a comrade imprisoned in Vienna. During a stopover in Athens, an Italian hostage was shot dead, and the hijackers surrendered during the emergency landing in Kuwait, but subsequently got away unpunished.

The hijacking of the plane christened Landshut on 13 October 1977 has often been filmed and is therefore relatively well known. This was also hijacked by Palestinian terrorists and was eventually freed by German special forces in Mogadishu.

Technical defects Boeing 737

A spectacular and unfortunately tragic incident occurred on 28 April 1988 when a Boeing 737-200 was flying from Hilo to Honolulu when a fatigue fracture caused the loss of the upper cabin roof of the front rows of seats. Unfortunately, one flight attendant was killed, but the pilots were able to land the aircraft safely despite the open cabin. The damage was irreparable and fortunately it was subsequently scrapped.

Incident 2024 Boeing 737-9 max

On 6 January 2024 in the USA, an Alaska Airlines flight with a Boeing 737-9 Max ran into difficulties shortly after take-off in Portland, Oregon, when part of the passenger cabin tore off (the exact course of the accident can be found in Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 on Wikipedia). However, the pilot was able to bring the aircraft safely back to the airport of departure. All 171 passengers and six crew members escaped with a scare, although one child suffered minor injuries. In response, the airline has decided to temporarily ground all of its 65 Boeing 737-9 Max aircraft for thorough maintenance and safety checks. The US transport authorities and Boeing are supporting the investigation. This incident is reminiscent of previous tragic accidents involving the 737 Max series, although the safety record of the aircraft since their return to service is considered good.

Ongoing quality problems with Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing is being increasingly criticised for significant quality problems with its 737 Max aircraft model. Boeing failed over a third of the safety tests carried out by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and a key supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, even failed half of the tests. The FAA also found violations in Boeing's control of manufacturing processes and product quality. In addition, the suicide of whistleblower John Barnett, who spoke out about the lack of safety at Boeing, was reported. Due to these ongoing problems, United Airlines is considering switching to Airbus aircraft in some cases, although orders at Airbus are already fully booked.


The Boeing 737 is a very safe aircraft in all its variants. Many accidents with personal injury, especially in the 70s to 90s, were due to a lack of safety precautions in the respective countries as well as pilot error. Unfortunately, there were two unfortunate accidents with the 737-MAX with many victims due to technical errors. But as we have seen, the authorities reacted quickly and comprehensively. A flight ban with all its economic consequences was imposed. Despite the problems, the accident statistics for the 737 are very good and safe at 0.20 cases per 1 million take-offs. The Boeing 737 is also a strong revenue generator for the company, but Boeing's share price is coming under increasing pressure as the industry is undergoing a transformation.

More information on all Boeing 737 accidents on Wikipedia.

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Frequently asked questions

How safe are Boeing 737 aircraft?
There are different versions of the Boeing 737 that have been in production since the 1960s. Some of the more recent models are the Boeing 737 MAX, which was introduced in 2017, and the Boeing 737-800, which has been in production since the 1990s. Both models have proven to be safe. Boeing 737 aircraft are very safe aeroplanes. They are the most produced aircraft model in the world and have proven to be very reliable. In addition to the aircraft itself, the qualifications and experience of the flight crew, as well as the airline's maintenance processes, are key safety factors.