In 2009 a number of dramatic and devastating plane crashes caught media attention. A plane crash in Clarence Center, New York took the lives of 49 people in the air and one on the ground. A Montana plane crash in March took the lives of all 17 people on board. And, miraculously, an airplane made an successful crash landing into the Hudson River in early 2009. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in 2005 there were 1,670 general aviation accidents involving 1,688 aircraft. Of those plane crashes, 321 were fatal, resulting in 563 deaths. This represents a two percent increase in fatal general aviation accidents from 2004 and a one percent increase in total number of fatalities from 2004.
Statistics claim that it is four times safer to fly in a plane than to drive a car. When an airplane does crash, however, the consequences are often catastrophic. Plane crashes are attributed to mechanical failure, defective parts, design flaws, pilot error, weather influence, air traffic controller error, bird strike, onboard fire, lack of fuel, terrorism, sabotage and other causes. Personal planes and charter plane operations are becoming more popular as the price of planes becomes more economical and travelers seek convenient alternatives to large commercial flights. However, the safety risks have yet to be measured. Furthermore, as reported by the Associated Press, the NTSB says that fuel exhaustion—running out of gas—was either a cause of or a factor in 238 small plane crashes in the US in the past five years. In total, 29 people died in small plane crashes linked to fuel exhaustion. The NTSB also says that from 2004 to 2008 there were 8,016 civilian plane crashes with 2,640 fatalities. In 75 percent of those crashes, pilot error was to blame. Civilian planes do not include commercial or military flights. If a charter plane operation or a civilian plane has limited insurance, they may not be covered to pay damages incurred in an airplane crash, such as loss of life, loss of income, crippling injuries or traumatic stres