I asked myself a question why are so many ATR involved in accidents in the past years?

  • ATR-72, 16 October 2013, Lao Airlines Flight 301
  • ATR-42, 19 October 2013, P2-PXY, Air Niugini
  • ATR-72, 23 July 2014, TransAsia Airways Flight 222
  • ATR-72, 02 February 2015, TransAsia Airways Flight 235
  • ATR-42, 16 August 2015, Trigana Air Service Flight 257
  • 21
    $\begingroup$ I can't see any useful comparison to be made without a lot more information. What is the list you provided as a percentage of the overall list compared to number in service as a percentage? How many flights? Where do they operate? What kind of flight profile compared to other aircraft/operators/locations? What are the relative statistics for the airlines? Do they point to training/maintenance issues? etc etc etc. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Aug 18, 2015 at 6:51
  • $\begingroup$ Remember you are speaking of a rare events, and thus it is difficult to make statistics based on those events. You may compare accident list with other aircraft whose number built is less than 1000 $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Aug 18, 2015 at 15:46

3 Answers 3


ATR-72, 16 October 2013, Lao Airlines Flight 301

The probable cause of this accident were the sudden change of weather condition and the flight crew's failure to properly execute the published instrument approach, including the published missed approach procedure, which resulted in the aircraft impacting the terrain.

ATR-42, 19 October 2013, P2-PXY, Air Niugini

According to released information this cargo aircraft overran the runway after the crew aborted the take-off above Vr after experiencing pitch control problems. The final report of this accident is not yet published but a preliminary report is available. The investigation focusses on the payload distribution which may have caused imbalance leading to the perceived control problems.

ATR-72, 23 July 2014, TransAsia Airways Flight 222

The aircraft crashed on final approach in low visibility conditions (800 meters). During the initial approach the crew had requested and ILS approach (precision approach) to runway 02 but then changed their minds and asked for a VOR approach (non-precision approach) to runway 20. During the approach, after deactivation of the autopilot, the aircraft deviated 340 meters to the left and the crew subsequently announced they were going around. Shortly afterwards the aircraft hit tree tops and impacted residential buildings.

The final report is expected in October 2015.

To me it seems the probable cause is the failure of the flight crew to properly execute the published instrument approach including the published missed approach procedure which resulted in the aircraft impacting the trees and buildings.

ATR-72, 02 February 2015, TransAsia Airways Flight 235

The investigation into this accident is still running, only some preliminary information has been published. Preliminary data indicates that about 36 seconds after takeoff the engine no.2 auto-feathered, about 46 seconds subsequent to auto-feather the engine no.1 was shut off by the crew, resulting in loss of all thrust. The aircraft subsequently descended, stalled and crashed into a river.

ATR-42, 16 August 2015, Trigana Air Service Flight 257

This accident occurred just a couple of days ago so there are few facts known yet and no preliminary findings are published. I will not speculate about the probable cause of this accident.

The common thread in the first four accidents seems to be the failure to comply with established procedures resulting in the loss of the aircraft.

In two cases (Lao Airlines Flight 301 and TransAsia Airways Flight 222) the flight crew flew a controllable aircraft into the ground.

In the case of the Air Niugini crash improper loading of the aircraft is likely to be the cause, resulting in the aircraft being not trimmed correctly for take-off.

The crash of TransAsia Airways Flight 235 is the only crash that involved an aircraft system malfunction (engine 2 failure). However, the ATR-72 can fly on a single engine so the failure itself should not have been fatal. The crew then shut down the other engine (number 1) which sealed the aircraft's fate. It is too early to conclude that the crew didn't follow the correct procedures here; for example there may have been ambiguous indications from the engine instruments that led them to believe that engine no. 1 had failed. However with the information currently available it seems that the crew did not follow the correct procedures for shutting down a failed engine.

The high number of crashes involving an ATR aircraft seems not to be related to the model itself, but to the safety culture and lack of training within a number of airlines operating the aircraft.


More of an issue of pilot training, weather, safety of the airline and the country's regulator in general. ATRs are popular in regions that encompass many islands, hence the application in Southeast Asia. Some of these airlines are "poor" so they cannot afford to operate larger jet aircraft, nor would operating such an aircraft make sense in economical terms for many of the routes they operate. Would say that it is circumstantial and not a problem with ATR aircraft, per se.


Blaming flight crews is a standard procedure by almost all manufacturers. Steve Frederick, an ATR 72 pilot was one of the many that noticed loss of flight control problems in icing conditions and warned American Eagle but was ignored. A friend flying ATR 72's commented "I'll probably die on one of these planes", and did on American Eagle Flight 4184. The company response was to fire pilots commenting on icing common on these planes. Many countries and companies grounded these planes, some banned flight in colder areas. I was aware of the problem and once noticed ice on the wings of one and avoided flying in these models. The chord-wise extent of the wing deicing boots on the ATR-72, while sufficient for milder conditions, was determined by the investigators after many incidents, was proved to be inadequate to protect against the large droplet icing conditions and resulted in many accidents and deaths.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This answer should (at most) be a comment. None of the accidents listed in the question have a cause related to icing. I am aware of two other accidents that involved icing after flight 4184. Aero Caribbean Flight 883 and TransAsia Airways flight 791 involve large droplet icing, but I don't know of "many accidents" related to large droplet icing with the ATR 72. Do you have any references? $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    Jan 22, 2018 at 1:01

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