Accidents and Incidents

Definitions for Accident, Incident and Serious Incident, is defined by ICAO in the Convention on International Civil Aviation Annex 13, standard of recommended practices : easing the matter can be said that Accident is the worst occurrence with at least a person fatally or seriously injured and/or when an airplane sustains structural damage of failure ; Incident is any other occurrence and serious incident is when an accident nearly occurred (only marginally avoided).

Accidenst and Incidents.

Accidents and incidents : what is this ?

Let’s take a look at these definitions :

ACCIDENT. An occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the
aircraft with the intention of flight until such time as all such persons have disembarked, in which:

a) a person is fatally or seriously injured as a result of:
— being in the aircraft, or
— direct contact with any part of the aircraft, including parts which have become detached from the aircraft, or
— direct exposure to jet blast,
except when the injuries are from natural causes, self-inflicted or inflicted by other persons, or when the injuries are to stowaways hiding outside the areas normally available to the passengers and crew; or

b) the aircraft sustains damage or structural failure which:
— adversely affects the structural strength, performance or flight characteristics of the aircraft, and
— would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component,
except for engine failure or damage, when the damage is limited to the engine, its cowlings or accessories; or for damage
limited to propellers, wing tips, antennas, tires, brakes, fairings, small dents or puncture holes in the aircraft skin; or

c) the aircraft is missing or is completely inaccessible.

Note 1.— For statistical uniformity only, an injury resulting in death within thirty days of the date of the accident is classified as a fatal injury by ICAO.
Note 2.— An aircraft is considered to be missing when the official search has been terminated and the wreckage has not been located.

INCIDENT. An occurrence, other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft which affects or could affect the safety of operation.

SERIOUS INCIDENT. An incident involving circumstances indicating that an accident nearly occurred.

Note 1.— The difference between an accident and a serious incident lies only in the result.


1. The term “serious incident” is defined in Chapter 1 as follows: Serious incident. An incident involving circumstances indicating that an accident nearly occurred.

2. The incidents listed are typical examples of incidents that are likely to be serious incidents. The list is notexhaustive and only serves as guidance to the definition of serious incident.

  • Near collisions requiring an avoidance manoeuvre to avoid a collision or an unsafe situation or when an avoidance action would have been appropriate.
  • Controlled flight into terrain only marginally avoided.
  • Aborted take-offs on a closed or engaged runway.
  • Take-offs from a closed or engaged runway with marginal separation from obstacle(s).
  • Landings or attempted landings on a closed or engaged runway.
  • Gross failures to achieve predicted performance during take-off or initial climb.
  • Fires and smoke in the passenger compartment, in cargo compartments or engine fires, even though such fires were extinguished by the use of extinguishing agents.
  • Events requiring the emergency use of oxygen by the flight crew.
  • Aircraft structural failures or engine disintegrations not classified as an accident.
  • Multiple malfunctions of one or more aircraft systems seriously affecting the operation of the aircraft.
  • Flight crew incapacitation in flight.
  • Fuel quantity requiring the declaration of an emergency by the pilot.
  • Take-off or landing incidents. Incidents such as under-shooting, overrunning or running off the side of runways.
  • System failures, weather phenomena, operations outside the approved flight envelope or other occurrences which could have caused difficulties controlling the aircraft.
  • Failures of more than one system in a redundancy system mandatory for flight guidance and navigation.

What is Aviation Accidents Database ?
Aviation Accidents Database is the key point to download official reports and investigations of incidents and accidents.

Many times it’s not easy to find the official reports online: either because the State Agency investigating the occurrence have no website, or the report is not published or it’s an old report not made in digital format.

We continuously search for reports, classify them, write the excerpt and make them available to all pilots and aviation enthusiasts worldwide: for the sake of aviation safety.

Since official Safety Reports are not always written in English language (this is permitted by ICAO), we also provide sometimes unofficial translations: you may like to read more here.

As simple as that.