Background: Aviation is a vital industry in a remote region like Alaska. During the 1990s, a total of 108 fatal aviation crashes resulted in 155 work-related fatalities. In the early 2000s, several interventions were developed and implemented by the aviation industry, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations through a multifaceted public health approach to improve aviation safety. Aircraft crashes remain the second leading cause of work-related deaths in Alaska; efforts continue to be needed to address this high-risk means of transportation. Methods: Data from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Alaska Occupational Injury Surveillance System (AOISS) were used to identify risk factors for work-related fatalities due to aircraft crashes. NTSB reports include information on aircraft, crash circumstances, pilots and crew, and a narrative outlining contributing factors. AOISS contains information on all fatal occupational traumatic injuries that occur in Alaska. Results. During 2000-2010, a total of 54 crashes resulted in 90 work-related fatalities, an average of five fatal aircraft crashes and eight fatalities per year. Among those crashes, 21 (39%) were associated with intended takeoffs or landings at remote landing sites not registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Fifteen crashes (28%) were associated with weather, including poor visibility, wind, and turbulence. In addition, 11 crashes (20%) resulted from pilots' loss of aircraft control; nine (17%) from pilots' failure to maintain clearance from terrain, water, or objects; and seven (13%) from engine, structure, or component failure. Conclusions: Although aviation safety has improved greatly from the 1990s, efforts are needed to further reduce work-related fatalities resulting from aircraft crashes in Alaska. Future safety interventions should focus on providing weather and other flight information to increase pilots' situational awareness, maintaining pilot proficiency and decision making abilities including avoiding fatigue, and expanding the infrastructure used by pilots to fly by instruments.
Public-health; Health-services; Worker-health; Workers; Work-environment; Environmental-factors; Environmental-hazards; Injuries; Accident-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Demographic-characteristics; Safety-measures; Health-protection; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Hazards; Aircraft; Aircrews; Morbidity-rates; Mortality-rates; Statistical-analysis