Despite Recent Events – Air Travel is Safe

By | June 2, 2009

In the aftermath of the most recent tragedy, Air France Flight 447, and a year that included a crash in Buffalo and a miraculous crash-landing on the Hudson, we may start to think that 2009 is an unlucky year for air travel, or that it is somehow unsafe.

Those of you who are nervous, let’s go over some statistics on the subject. As previously mentioned, the Airbus 330 aircraft has a perfect safety record in revenue service(the one incident being during testing). Before you rush to cancel your next Air France flight, in 2007 and 2008, the airline safely transported over 74-million passengers more than 207-million revenue passenger kilometers.

In the United States, there had been no fatalities in commercial aviation for two years before the Buffalo crash in February that killed 50 people. Only 28 accidents involving large commercial carriers were reported in both 2007 and 2008 according to the National Transportation Safety Board(NTSB). Airlines carried more than 758 million passengers on more than 10.8 million flights without a fatality. If you board an aircraft in the United States this year, you have a 1 in 2,000,000 chance of being in an airplane accident and a sixty percent chance of surviving such an accident.

The leading causes of death in the United States don’t have anything to do with what type of transportation you take, but disease.The top killer is heart disease, followed closely by cancer. The lifetime, as opposed to annual odds of dying of heart disease are 1 in 5(2001 Statistics), while those of dying in an auto accident are 1 in 100. The lifetime odds of dying in an air travel accident are 1-in-20,000.

We’re not sure that makes us feel any  better exactly. We live with the knowledge that anytime, anywhere, any place, our number could be up. The truth is, it is not as likely as we fear. It puts us in mind of the classic 1990 Dudley Moore movie, Crazy People, in which Moore’s character, along with some quirky sidekicks unveil a wave of ‘honest advertising’. In one scene, the group pitches a campaign for United Airlines, stressing the fears and danger of air travel and concluding with the tagline, “United Airlines: Most of Our Passengers Get There Alive.

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