Every pilot’s worst nightmare is crashing a plane. Not only is it incredibly dangerous – sometimes even deadly – it’s highly traumatic, costly, and can have terrible far-reaching consequences. You could cause physical damage to yourself, your passengers, and those around you or develop PTSD. These are just the surface of the potential consequences of crashing your plane.

It is not illegal to crash a plane by accident, though you could face charges if you do it on purpose or damage other people’s properties. Let’s explore some of the legal consequences of crashing your plane, even if it’s not illegal.

Can You Crash Your Plane for Fun?

With proper planning, people set out to crash their planes. This could be for research purposes. For example, a company may be testing out new safety features, and they need to see how they work in a real-life setting. People can also crash their planes for fun and entertainment, through strict rules would apply, depending on the country.

When you fly, you submit a flight plan. If you plan to crash your plane, it’s part of the plan. It should be away from the public in a place where you can manage the risk of injury or fire. Additionally, you assume all risks should something go wrong, someone gets hurt, or any other consequences – there are no insurance claims after a deliberate crash.

If you don’t clear it with the authorities first, you could face a world of trouble, including reckless endangerment, public or private property damage, and more.

What Are My Rights If I’m in a Plane Crash?

Your plane crashed, and you survived – now what? Aside from being lucky to be alive, you may be eligible for financial compensation. The amount varies per country and airline, but you could receive up to 157,687 euros.

If the airline took all the necessary precautions and the plane still crashed, you should be able to sue the airline. While it’s not illegal to crash a plane, it did cause you undue suffering, mental anguish, and potentially physical problems that will last a lifetime.

It is important to remember that commercial planes are still the safest way to travel – much safer than cars. Smaller, privately-owned planes tend to be less secure because they are smaller, require less training, and can easily overlook issues during the pre-flight check that can have serious consequences.

What If I Crash a Plane on Private Property?

If your plane is malfunctioning, you look for the first safe place to land quickly. The last thing on your mind is trespassing on private property. Your biggest concern is getting the plane safely on the ground – as it should be!

However, after the fact, if you cause damage to the property, you may be liable for any damages that take place. For example, if you damage a fence, grass, or other structure, the owner could sue you for the cost of repairs.

So Is Crashing a Plane Illegal?

No, crashing your plane is not illegal, but that does not mean you are free from consequences if you do, especially if you’re doing it for entertainment value. In the case of a malfunction, be sure you’re equipped with the knowledge of how to land your plane without technological assistance safely.

The worst thing you can do is panic, so as hard as it may be, try to stay calm. Land the plane safely and deal with the consequences later. You’re very lucky to be alive after a plane crash, so thank your stars. You’re not breaking laws by crashing a plane, but that doesn’t mean you should do it for fun.