What is the aircraft loss-rate from Nimitz-class carriers? That is, what proportion of sorties result in the loss of the aircraft for reasons other than enemy action?

I was prompted to ask this after the Russian carrier Kuznetsov lost two aircraft in the space of a couple of weeks.

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    $\begingroup$ @mins While I agree that this is military related, we have many military related aviation questions, including many well received questions asked about aircraft carrier operations. I also don't see military questions listed as off-topic in the help center. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Dec 26, 2016 at 13:31
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    $\begingroup$ @mins What if it were a question about statistics for runway excursions for one type of runway or operation vs another? $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Dec 26, 2016 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ I'm guessing the OP is asking directly related to launch and recovery, in transit the aircraft isn't any different from one that is land based. I'm thinking he is after recovery operations that result in a loss of airframe that wasn't because of damage sustained in combat. Basically pilot error in landing... $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Dec 26, 2016 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ Hi, thank you for all the above comments. @Ron Beyer - I had a mind losses for all reasons other than enemy action, that is, accidents of all types. Certainly I don't mean to restrict the question to pilot error only. Reading reports of the Kuznetsov incidents, it appeared that both were related to problems with the arrestor gear. If someone can indicate a breakdown of losses by cause or phase of operation, e.g. during takeoff, during landing, fuel exhaustion - that would be even better! $\endgroup$
    – Crosbie
    Dec 26, 2016 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Crosbie That may be difficult, as the US Military is not required (nor does it usually) release accident reports regarding its aircraft. The NTSB has a good database of commercial/private accident statistics and data, but I don't believe there is a good source of the information you are asking for. You'd probably have to rely on news reports. It isn't a bad question, but I don't believe there is a good way to get the breakdown/info you are looking for. Good luck though, hopefully somebody does have it. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Dec 26, 2016 at 21:54

1 Answer 1


The Naval Safety Center publishes some useful stats here.

02-06 navy class a rates marines class a (Rates are per 100,000 flight hours per year. Source.)

fy17 chart 1 - flight fy17 chart 2 - ground (Source.)

A few more details are available in the summaries. One example: enter image description here

Other examples:

  • E-2C: Electrical arcing at vapor cycle power receptacle led to aircraft fire in the hangar bay.
  • A single F/A-18C crashed 6.6 miles northwest of Lakenheath, England. Event Cost \$72,000,000
  • MV-22: While recovering to LPD, MV-22 landed short of spot 2, main landing gear in deck edge netting
  • Engine fire leading to ejection. Event Cost \$71,000,000
  • Two CH-53 helicopters crashed while on training flight. All 12 crewmembers deceased.
  • AV-8B experience catastrophic engine failure during takeoff. Event Cost \$62,800,000
  • AV-8B experienced loss of thrust, pilot ejected safely. Event Cost \$62,800,000
  • 2xF/A-18F Collided during Air-to-Air training. 2 aircraft lost. No fatalities. Event Cost \$173,580,662
  • EA-18G inflight engagement during night CV landing caused extensive damage to aircraft
  • F/A-18 impacted ground during air show practice. Event Cost: \$75,400,000
  • MH-60S crashed into James River while performing SAR training flight. Event cost: \$25,508,816
  • F/A-18C crash during night air-to-ground training mission. Event cost: \$76,500,000
  • [snip]
  • A single T-45C impacted the ground at high energy. \$37,800,000
  • [snip]
  • Aircraft impacted a tree during low level training. Aircraft recovered safely.
  • [snip]
  • MV-22 ditched off Okinawa during NVD training mission. Event Cost \$80,600,000

Class A mishap definition:

\$2,000,000 or more and/or aircraft destroyed [or] Fatality or permanent total disability

Just note that these are just Class A's. It doesn't include B's, C's, or D's. Some of these aren't carrier related.

On a completely unrelated note, notice the costs. Modern a/c are expensive (although not all that is flyaway cost).

  • $\begingroup$ The math in the bottom table doesn't work... dividing the mishaps into the flight hours doesn't give the rates listed. Something else, not shown, seems to be in play. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Jul 25, 2021 at 21:52

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