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How safe is skydiving?

Like any outdoor sport, skydiving involves inherent risk but proper preparation and good judgment can minimize the vast majority of them. Many think that equipment failure causes most skydiving accidents, but the reality is that the vast majority are a result of simple human error. Many of the accidents occur because the jumper—oftentimes an experienced skydiver who is pushing the limits— makes an error in judgement while landing a perfectly functioning parachute. (Just as automobile accidents are not usually the result of equipment failure, but rather operator mistakes.)

Equipment Safety

Each parachute system is equipped with a main and reserve parachute, and all student systems include an automatic activation device, which is an electric device that will release the reserve if the main parachute does not deploy. At least 90% of experienced skydivers also equip themselves with this device. Although no equipment can be perfect, modern parachute equipment incorporates advanced safety features and undergoes testing in conditions that far exceed the stresses it will endure on a normal jump. Statistically, accidents involving equipment malfunctions are the result of the skydiver reacting incorrectly and not following the prescribed emergency procedures.


In 2023, around 42,000 USPA members made approximately 3.65 million jumps at more than 200 USPA-affiliated skydiving centers across the country, and USPA recorded 10 civilian skydiving fatalities in the U.S. (0.27 fatalities per 100,000 jumps). This is the lowest number of annual deaths recorded (tying with 2021) since statistics began being recorded in 1961. Tandem skydiving—where you’re attached to an experienced skydiving instructor for your jump—has an even better safety rate, with one student fatality per 500,000 jumps on average over the past 10 years. Skydiving’s safety record stands as a testament to decades of strict safety standards, training policies and programs, including a USPA Safety Day taking place every March, as well as improvements in skydiving equipment over the years.

Year Skydiving Fatalities in U.S. Estimated Annual Jumps Fatalities Per 100,000 Jumps
2023 10 3.65 million 0.27
2022 20 3.9 million 0.51
2021 10 3.57 million 0.28
2020 11 2.8 million 0.39
2019 15 3.3 million 0.45
2018 13 3.3 million 0.39
2017 24 3.2 million 0.75
2016 21 3.2 million 0.66
2015 21 3.5 million 0.60
2014 24 3.2 million 0.75
2013 24 3.2 million 0.75
2012 19 3.1 million 0.61
2011 25 3.1 million 0.81
2010 21 3.0 million 0.70
2009 16 3.0 million 0.53
2008 30 2.6 million 1.15
2007 18 2.5 million 0.72
2006 21 2.5 million 0.84
2005 27 2.6 million 1.04
2004 21 2.6 million 0.81

What about jumping out of a “perfectly good” skydiving aircraft?

Skydiving operations have a much lower aircraft accident rate than general aviation. Skydive jump pilots receive thorough training prior to flying skydivers and that training must include aircraft-specific systems, preflight inspections, weight and balance considerations and proper fuel management. Skydivers receive instruction on how to respond to aircraft emergencies during their initial student training, and most skydiving centers reinforce this training at various times of the year. In the past 10 years, there have been eight fatal aircraft accidents related to skydiving with 25 total fatalities.

skydiving airplane accidents

Safe Skydiving Centers

As an organization, we look at individual accidents—whether fatal or not—to see what we can learn to make the sport safer. We do not count deaths by state, region or facility, since that is usually not a factor. (The number of skydiving accidents at a skydiving business is typically proportional to the volume of skydives they conduct) All USPA Group Member drop zones have made a pledge to use appropriately rated instructors, equipment and pilots.

More Information

Each April, USPA publishes an in-depth report on skydiving incidents and skydiving-related aircraft incidents in Parachutist magazine, which are available under the Back-Issues tab at Parachutist.com


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