As yet another plane crash hits the headlines, paranoia is running high and questions are inevitably being asked is flying getting more dangerous? Well the simple answer is no.
The tragic crash of Germanwings flight 9525 on the 24th March 2015 was a dreadful incident that is unimaginably heartbreaking for the families of the victims involved, and has made headline news across national media and 24 hour rolling news for the past two days. This incident follows closely from other high profile incidents with Malaysia Air and Air Asia, themselves causing their own levels of mass hysteria and conspiracy theories, and has led to inevitable comparisons that are causing many people to ask are budget airlines cutting costs and therefore safety, or even if flying altogether is still safe?
Is flying safe?
The media hysteria over the recent spate of high profile crashes is understandable but misguided. The problem is the media have caused a large portion of the general public to ask whether flying is safe at all. This is absolutely ridiculous, and a cold dose of common sense and factual truth is sorely needed in a debate that is quickly descending into the worst kind of knee jerk reactionism.
Let’s look at the actual facts.
Figures from the International Civil Aviation Organisation show that in 2014, 986 people died in a plane crash, with the total number of fatal crashes at 21 over the course of a year.
21 plane crashes and 986 dead. Those are large numbers.
Yet in 2014 alone, 33 BILLION passengers flew on over 27 MILLION flights!
That’s one crash for every 1.3 million flights!
Things need to be kept in perspective!
There is no doubt that the last year or so has been a bad one for commercial aviation and it is undeniable that every crash when they occur are both tragic and terrible. Of course everyone’s thoughts should be with the families of those victims and it is understandable that in their grief they may look for some explanation, some reason, even someone to blame, but that is no reason for the rest of the general public or the mass media to give fuel to the misinformed fear and suspicion of the airline industry.
These incidents are so high profile in the media, so profoundly tragic precisely because of their rarity.
I have been travelling the world for around 15 years now on and off. I have probably taken almost every form of commercial (and some non commercial) transport imaginable in that time but the bulk of that has been air travel. I have lost count of how many flights I have taken. I like to think that my spider sense is pretty finely tuned at this point, and in all that time it has never even crossed my mind that at any point I would be at any unreasonable risk or danger. Do accidents happen? Of course. And if I were to ever be in a plane crash then that is all it would be. An accident. Tragic? Maybe. Avoidable? I doubt it. At least I would have died doing something I love. Travelling.
The fact that some risk is always present in anything we do will never stop me from having travel as a huge part of my life. The fact that sometimes tragic accidents happen will never stop me from booking my next ticket and getting on a plane. I know that the risk to my safety when flying is as minimised as it possibly can be from the robust and formidable safety checks, procedures and regulations all carriers adhere to. Hell, I was probably in far more danger careening around the streets of Delhi in a tuk tuk with a driver oblivious to anything other than his horn than I ever have been on any aircraft.
So if you are starting to worry about the safety records of airlines or wondering if you will be safe on your next flight, just keep in mind that you’re probably more likely to die on the way to the airport than you are in the air. And to all those who are joining the mass paranoia crowd, just calm down and keep things in perspective.
In the words of Superman, flying really is still the safest way to travel.
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