From the FAA Remote Pilot study guide, but apparently referring to manned aircraft accidents: "...the vast majority of these accidents occur during landing (24.1 percent) and takeoff (23.4 percent)."

24.1 + 23.4 = 47.5, a minority, but this could still be a "vast majority" if there are a lot of small categories making up the majority of accidents. Assuming this sentence is not wrong, there must be at least three other categories, but for it to really be a "vast majority" more than three would be needed.

The only other category I can think of is cruise flight, but I'm not sure that would be considered a category rather than broken into more specific phases. What are some categories of accidents other than takeoff and landing?

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe those other categories are climb, approach, cruise and manoeuvring - but I'm not sure. Please share that FAA reference :-) $\endgroup$ Feb 11, 2023 at 2:18
  • $\begingroup$ @AdityaSharma faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/media/… it's on page number 50 (59 in the PDF). $\endgroup$
    – kj7rrv
    Feb 11, 2023 at 2:44
  • $\begingroup$ 1) I would suggest you edit your title to read " What are some categories of accidents other than takeoff, landing, and cruising?", which is what you asked at the end. (Or delete "and cruising" from the final sentence.) As it stands now things don't match up. 2) "Controlled flight into terrain" is an obvious choice that would rarely fit with "take-off" or landing but certainly might fit with "cruising". CFIT accidents are rather common. 3) Other possibilities are engine failure, or loss of control in cloud. $\endgroup$ Feb 11, 2023 at 3:43
  • $\begingroup$ But your question is fundamentally about phases of flight, not causes of accidents. Ok, I get that. But I would submit that if someone states "the vast majority of accidents happen during X + Y phases", then that means a vast majority of the total accidents. It doesn't mean that the sum of accident in X+Y phases vastly outnumbers the number of accidents in any one other phase. $\endgroup$ Feb 11, 2023 at 3:51
  • $\begingroup$ So, it doesn't really matter into how many pieces you slice up the remaining phases of flights experiencing accidents. Question could perhaps be edited-- $\endgroup$ Feb 11, 2023 at 3:53

1 Answer 1


The official "Phase of Flight" list that FAA accident reports use can be found here in the aidcodes.doc file and includes the following:


CODE                LONG DESCRIPTION                            SHORT DESCRIPTION    
__________      ______________________________              ____________________   

AA              STARTING ENGINES                                STATIC-STARTUP             
AB              IDLING ENGINES                                  STATIC-IDLE ENG            
AC              ENGINE RUN-UP                                   STATIC-RUN UP              
AD              IDLING ROTORS                                   STATIC-IDLE ROTOR          
BA              POWER ON DESCENT (ROTORCRAFT)           APPR-ROTOR RWR DSC        
BB              AUTOROT DESCENT (ROTORCRAFT)            APPR-AUTOROT DES           
BC              IN TRAFFIC PATTERN-CIRCLING                 APPR-VFR PTRN CIRC         
BD              FINAL APPROACH                                  APPR-FINAL 
BE              INITIAL APPROACH-IFR                        APPR-INITIAL               
BF              FINAL APPROACH-IFR                              APPR-FINAL                 
BG              GO ROUND (ABORTED VFR)                      APPR-GO ARND VFR           
BH              MISSED APPROACH IFR                         APPR-MISSED IFR           
BI              FORCED LANDING                                  APPR-FORCE LAND            
CX              CLIMB TO CRUISE                                 CLIMB-TO CRUISE            
DA              NORMAL CRUISE                                   CRUISE-NORMAL              
DB              HOLDING IFR                                     CRUISE-HOLD IFR            
DC              ACROBATICS-BUZZING                          CRUISE-ACRO/BUZZ           
DD              FCD/PREC LDG FROM CRUISE                    CRUISE-FCD/PREC LD         
DE              LOW LEVEL OPERATIONS                        CRUISE-LO LVL OF           
DF              UNAUTH LOW LEVEL OPNS                       UNAUTH LOW LEVEL          
DG              PRACTICE TRAINING MANUEVERS                 PRACTICE MANUEVER         
DH              FORMATION FLYING                                FORMATION                  
EX              DESCENT                                         DESCENT                    
FA              OPS ON GRND TO TKOF/RTRCRFT                 GRND ROTOR/GR-TO           
FB              OPS ON GRND FROM LDG/RTRCRFT                GRND FRM LAND              
FC              AERIAL TAXI TO TKOF/RTRCRFT                 GRND ROTOR/AIR-TO          
FD              AERIAL TAXI FROM LDG/RTRCRFT                GRND ROTOR/AIR-LND        
FE              GROUND TAXI, OTHER AIRPLANE                 GRND GRD TAXI              
FF              AERIAL TAXI, OTHER HELICOPTER               GRND AER TAXI              
FG              OTHER GROUND OPS                                GRND OTHER                 
GX              HOVERING                                        HOVERING                   
HA              LEVEL OFF TOUCHDOWN                         LAND-LVL OFF TOUCH         
HB              ROLL-OUT (FIXED WING)                       LAND-ROLL FW               
HC              ROLL-OUT (ROTORCRAFT)                       LAND-ROLL HELIO            
HD              PWR ON VERTICAL LDNG/RTRCRFT            LAND-PWR ON VERT           
HE              PWR OFF VERT LAND/AUTOROTATE            LAND-PWR OFF VERT          
HF              PRW ON RUN LANDING (ROTORCRAFT          LAND-PWR ON RUN            
HG              PWR OFF RUN LAND (AUTOROTATION          LAND-PWR OFF RUN           
HH              TOUCH AND GO LANDING                        TOUCH AND GO               
HK              SLOPE LANDING                                   SLOPE                      
HM              SETTLE WITH POWER (ROTORCRAFT)          SETTLEWPWR                 
IA              TAKEOFF GROUND ROLL                         TKOF-GRND ROLL             
IB              TO INIT CLIMB(1ST PWR REDUCT)               TKOF-INIT CLIMB            
IC              TO VERTICAL (HELICOPTER ONLY)               TKOF-VERTICAL              
ID              TO RUNNING(HELICOPTER/VTOL AC)          TKOF-RUNNING               
IE              TO ABORTED (FIXED WING)                     TKOF-ABORTED               
IF              TKOF-ABORT-COPTER VERTICAL                  TKOF-ABORT-VERT            
IH              FORCED/PRECAUTIONARY LANDING            TKOF-FORCE LAND            
JX              UNKNOWN                                         UNKNOWN                    
KA              SIMULATED FORCED LANDING/TKOF           SFL-TKOF RUN               
KB              SFL TAKEOFF CLIMB                               SFL-TKOF CLIMB             
KC              SFL CRUISE                                      SFL-CRUISE                
KD              SFL FINAL APPROACH                              SFL-FNL APP                
KE              SFL TRAFFIC PATTERN                             SFL-TFC PTRN               
KF               SFL GO AROUND                                  SFL-GO-ARND                
KG              SFL AUTOROTATION                                SFL-AUTO ROT              
PJ              PARACHUTE JUMPING                           PARA JUMP                  
PL              PINNACLE LANDING                                PINNACLE                   
SR              SCUD RUNNING                                    SCUD                       
99999           PHASE OF FLIGHT INVALID                     ERROR MESSAGE             

Reports like this from a third party source roll the data up into some condensed categories but the above list is the official list used by the NTSB for Aviation reports.

Note: you can pull the raw NTSB accident data in spreadsheet form from the link above (its year by year but you can still get it) and roll up your own stats if you are indeed curious.


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