Air travel: Why it isn’t as bad as it sounds

The last few years, mainly 2014 till the present haven’t been the most ‘ideal’ years for aviation. From the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 to the deliberate German-wings crash, incidents like these are enough to make even the most avid travellers ponder about the safety of air travel. Admittedly, the last few years have seen some serious crashes, but when you look at things comparatively, aviation’s safety record is getting better, not worse.

Statistically, in the year 2015, there was only one commercial plane incident in every 4.5 million flights. Those odds are very slim, and generally mean you’re not going to get into an accident anytime soon. On average, you would need to fly every single day for approximately 55,000 years to be involved in a fatal accident. Let’s understand this better. How about we put the odds of everyday activities and them killing you in perspective?

Being assaulted by a firearm: 1 in 358.
Being electrocuted: 1 in 12,200.
Walking down the street: 1 in 704.
Falling: 1 in 144.
Overdosing on a prescription painkiller: 1 in 234.
What are your odds of dying in a plane? 1 in 96, 566.

You’re more likely to die in a car than in a plane. It’s hard to fathom this, simply because you’re so comfortable in a car. You feel in control, you feel like you can dictate the situation. The reason people are so daunted by the idea of aviation is because of the animosity and and less awareness around it. People don’t know how airplanes work, and so they feel helpless in the situation.

Media exposure is also a key factor in what the general public opinion is. The reason also why aviation is portrayed this way is because media benefits from mass hysteria, a public panic about something. Think about it, if today I ran a news station and broadcasted news about Airbus and Boeing making safety upgrades to their fleet, it wouldn’t rack up nearly the same amount of revenue in views and advertisement in comparison to me broadcasting a plane crash. Most of the time, quite like this, you see what the news channel wants you to see, ‘partial truth’. If I lined up the last five plane accidents and showed them to you one by one, by the end of my presentation, you would have the notion that aviation isn’t safe. What I didn’t show you, though, was the fact that in this time, 3.5 billion flights have operated without a problem.

In this day and age, planes are equipped with some of the best technology to deal with any kind of issues in flight. The 777 is one of the world’s most advanced planes, geared with full computer systems designed to help the pilots fly with minimal problems. Boeing has delivered more than 1000 of the long-range, wide-body 777 planes to airlines around the world since 1995 and there have been fewer than 60 incidents reported with the aircraft, according to the US National Transportation Safety Board. We now have almost every modern commercial jet equipped with weather radars and state of the art communication systems.

To conclude, I’d say that the bad rep falling on aviation lately is downright insulting. Pilots train for thousands of hours in rigorous simulators before they fly a real plane. Branding an entire industry by a few incidents is pretty demeaning, especially when they are so many qualified pilots in the world.

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