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Old 05-14-2018, 06:15 PM
golffan1963 golffan1963 is offline
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Is Flying REALLY The Safest Way To Travel?

I hear it all of the time...including reading it just now on another thread: "Statistically, flying is the safest way to travel".....

But is it really? I know the stats, but it seems to me the question that is more appropriate is "If something should go wrong, are you safer in an airplane or somewhere else?"

Personally, I don't buy it....flying is an extremely risky way to travel. If something does go wrong, you're up the creek without a paddle. You're 35,000 feet in the air, strapped into a chair inside of a metal tube. You have no control over your fate....it's up to the pilot....or just luck. You live or die strapped in your seat.

At least if I am driving a car, I'm on the ground and I can do something about it. I can at least try to save myself.

Give me the car anytime!
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:17 PM
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If you know the stats, then you know the answer.
Per mile traveled, flying is much, much safer than going by automobile.

If you are in a car, and you get T-boned by someone running a red light, what can you do about it?
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:20 PM
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You seem to think that if something goes wrong on an airplane, you're very likely to die. Nope. Most plane crashes don't end in fatality.

If you were in a car headed into a dangerous section of the road, who would you rather have behind the wheel--you, or Dale Earnhardt? If your mom has cancer, who do you want operating, you, or a guy who went to medical school?
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:26 PM
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If you are in a plane, who do you want flying it, you, or the drunk?
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Old 05-14-2018, 06:46 PM
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If you were in a car headed into a dangerous section of the road, who would you rather have behind the wheel--you, or Dale Earnhardt?
Me. Have you seen Junior drive?
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Old 05-14-2018, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Lemur866 View Post
You seem to think that if something goes wrong on an airplane, you're very likely to die. Nope. Most plane crashes don't end in fatality.
I'll go ya one further, most plane incidents don't result in crashes.


You have professional pilots who go thru refresher training/recertification every 6-9 months. They go into the flight simulators & practice emergency conditions so if/when something happens they know what to do. When's the last time you practiced an emergency in your car. You turn into a skid, but how far is just the right amount? What happens if one of your wheels comes off/tires blow out? etc.
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Old 05-14-2018, 07:19 PM
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Is Flying REALLY The Safest Way To Travel?

Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by golffan1963 View Post
I hear it all of the time...including reading it just now on another thread: "Statistically, flying is the safest way to travel".....

But is it really?
Yes.

Quote:
I know the stats,
So why are you asking?

Quote:
but it seems to me the question that is more appropriate is "If something should go wrong, are you safer in an airplane or somewhere else?"
Yes, safer in an airplane. You know the stats, as you just said.

Quote:
Personally, I don't buy it....
You don't buy that you already know the stats?

Quote:
flying is an extremely risky way to travel.
No it isn't, you JUST SAID you knew all the stats.

Quote:
If something does go wrong, you're up the creek without a paddle. You're 35,000 feet in the air, strapped into a chair inside of a metal tube. You have no control over your fate....it's up to the pilot....or just luck. You live or die strapped in your seat.
Yet you know the stats. And all of those things could be said about a car (except for the 35,00ft thing (unless it is an extremely rare circumstance.)) You can't control what other people or the weather or the road conditions are like.

Quote:
At least if I am driving a car, I'm on the ground and I can do something about it. I can at least try to save myself.
Not if you are a passenger in the car. Just like on the plane.

Quote:
Give me the car anytime!
I will grant you that some rando off the street that has been driving for years is probably safer driving a car than if he was piloting a plane. But when it comes to being passengers...you know the stats.

Last edited by snfaulkner; 05-14-2018 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 05-14-2018, 07:50 PM
golffan1963 golffan1963 is offline
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Thank you, SF Falkner, for that ingenious summation.
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Old 05-14-2018, 07:51 PM
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Which is safer, being on the Earth, or being on a NASA spacecraft? Well, if the Earth breaks, then you're really screwed, but if a spacecraft breaks, you at least have a chance of fixing it.

Which of course means absolutely nothing, if you fail to consider that planets break only extremely rarely.
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Old 05-14-2018, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golffan1963 View Post
Personally, I don't buy it....flying is an extremely risky way to travel. If something does go wrong, you're up the creek without a paddle. You're 35,000 feet in the air, strapped into a chair inside of a metal tube. You have no control over your fate....it's up to the pilot....or just luck. You live or die strapped in your seat.

At least if I am driving a car, I'm on the ground and I can do something about it. I can at least try to save myself.
This indicates that you do not understand risk assessment. You are completely ignoring the probability of something going wrong in the first place. You are also confusing your personal ability to control a failure situation with the probability of a given outcome of all trials.

To simplify things, risk assessment calculates the probability of various outcomes, and the impact of those outcomes, and then weights those alternatives to come up with a bottom-line number for the expected value of the scenario. The expected value of a mile flown in a plane is extremely close to 100% survival. The expected value of a mile ridden in a car is still pretty good but not nearly as high.

Let me add that I would rather be in a plane with an engine blow up and Tammie Jo Shults as the pilot, than driving my own car when the engine blows up when I'm doing 75 on a busy interstate.
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Old 05-14-2018, 08:08 PM
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I hasten to add that not too many people drive their cars on cross-country trips compared to air travel. My hypothesis is that a long interstate drive may be safer than local trips because of fewer intersections and all traffic on divided highways moving the same direction. I have never seen that kind of a comparison to air travel.
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Old 05-14-2018, 08:16 PM
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I think I know where some of the misconception about the risk of flying comes from. Press coverage from airline deaths is simply tremendous while traffic deaths are mentioned locally, if at all. Take 2015, for example, national news would have been going ape three or four times a week at the rate of deaths in traffic accidents (~740 per week)) compared to the rate in airline fatalities (3.5 per week). The other consideration is that airline fatalities happen in bunches with up to hundreds at a time, when traffic fatalities are in small handfuls at most.
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Old 05-14-2018, 08:32 PM
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In general us humans tend to be really really bad at risk assessment. The OP's assumptions are quite common but due to cognitive biases we all share.
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Old 05-14-2018, 08:37 PM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golffan1963 View Post

Personally, I don't buy it....flying is an extremely risky way to travel. If something does go wrong, you're up the creek without a paddle. You're 35,000 feet in the air, strapped into a chair inside of a metal tube. You have no control over your fate....it's up to the pilot....or just luck. You live or die strapped in your seat.

At least if I am driving a car, I'm on the ground and I can do something about it. I can at least try to save myself.
Look at it from the pilot's point of view.

You say you have no control over your fate in an aeroplane and so you are less safe than if you were in a car. The pilot of the very same aeroplane you are in would say "I have control of my fate, therefore I am safer than if I was a passenger in a car with golffan."

You are both using the same logic to come to a different conclusion, therefore the logic is bad.

Last edited by Richard Pearse; 05-14-2018 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 05-14-2018, 08:57 PM
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I do think that it's a bit disingenuous to compare generic air travel to generic driving. I have no idea what sort of pilot I'm getting, but when I'm driving, I know I'm not drunk, I am wearing my seatbelt, I'm in a fairly new/safe car, I'm conservative/defensive, I'm not driving a motorcycle . . .I feel like the fatalities/mile odds for me are a lot lower than for the whole nation averaged together. That's the number that needs to be compared to the fatalities/mile in air travel.
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Old 05-14-2018, 09:16 PM
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I do think that it's a bit disingenuous to compare generic air travel to generic driving. I have no idea what sort of pilot I'm getting, but when I'm driving, I know I'm not drunk, I am wearing my seatbelt, I'm in a fairly new/safe car, I'm conservative/defensive, I'm not driving a motorcycle . . .I feel like the fatalities/mile odds for me are a lot lower than for the whole nation averaged together. That's the number that needs to be compared to the fatalities/mile in air travel.
The average driver believes that they are above average, this is called the above-average effect or superiority bias.

https://www.psychologicalscience.org...e-average.html

There 3.38 road fatalities per 1 billion vehicle-km on US Interstates compared to 0.05 for commercial aviation.
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Old 05-14-2018, 09:34 PM
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I do think that it's a bit disingenuous to compare generic air travel to generic driving. I have no idea what sort of pilot I'm getting, but when I'm driving, I know I'm not drunk, I am wearing my seatbelt, I'm in a fairly new/safe car, I'm conservative/defensive, I'm not driving a motorcycle . . .I feel like the fatalities/mile odds for me are a lot lower than for the whole nation averaged together. That's the number that needs to be compared to the fatalities/mile in air travel.
"And all the children are above average."

Regardless of the reality of your own driving skill, your logic is not valid. You are assuming that most fatalities are the fault of the person who is killed or their equipment. Bad drivers kill good drivers and passengers every day.

And finally, commercial pilots have a lot more training and experience and more rigorous certification for what they do than you have had for driving. If the best qualification you have is that you are not drunk, I'm going with the pilot.
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Old 05-14-2018, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
I do think that it's a bit disingenuous to compare generic air travel to generic driving. I have no idea what sort of pilot I'm getting, but when I'm driving, I know I'm not drunk, I am wearing my seatbelt, I'm in a fairly new/safe car, I'm conservative/defensive, I'm not driving a motorcycle . . .I feel like the fatalities/mile odds for me are a lot lower than for the whole nation averaged together. That's the number that needs to be compared to the fatalities/mile in air travel.
You should have an idea of what kind of pilot you are getting, since they are licensed and supervised a lot better than drivers. And there is a copilot also.
You might not be drunk, but that guy roaring the wrong way down the interstate is.
Is your car maintenance done to the level that airplane maintenance is done? Does your car have the redundancy of a plane? If one of your engines goes out in the middle of a freeway moving 70, you don't have another to allow you to keep moving.
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Old 05-14-2018, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by golffan1963 View Post

Personally, I don't buy it....flying is an extremely risky way to travel. If something does go wrong, you're up the creek without a paddle. You're 35,000 feet in the air, strapped into a chair inside of a metal tube. You have no control over your fate....it's up to the pilot....or just luck. You live or die strapped in your seat.
In words of one syllable, things are much less likely to go wrong, and there is often room to recover if they do. If a plane drops 1,000 feet, usually no trouble. If you are driving by a cliff and you drop 1,000 feet - *crunch*.
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Old 05-14-2018, 10:47 PM
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Airplanes are much safer per passenger-mile, but the stats change if measured per passenger-hour (though not nearly enough, I think, to make planes less safe). This does have a little relevance: Hours spent in travel is more relevant for certain purposes, both business and personal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rat avatar View Post
...
There 3.38 road fatalities per 1 billion vehicle-km on US Interstates compared to 0.05 for commercial aviation.
IIUC that favorable-for-aviation figure would be even more more favorable if expressed (as would seem more appropriate) in passenger-km rather than vehicle-km.

But what about non-commercial aviation especially if measured in passenger-hours, not passenger-miles? Just off the top of my head, John Denver, Richie Valens, Buddy Holly, and John-John all died in plane crashes and I see here I'm missing several others: Otis Redding, Rickie Nelson, Rocky Marciano, Roberto Clemente, etc. How many celebrities died in car crashes?
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by MonkeyMensch View Post
I think I know where some of the misconception about the risk of flying comes from. Press coverage from airline deaths is simply tremendous while traffic deaths are mentioned locally, if at all. Take 2015, for example, national news would have been going ape three or four times a week at the rate of deaths in traffic accidents (~740 per week)) compared to the rate in airline fatalities (3.5 per week). The other consideration is that airline fatalities happen in bunches with up to hundreds at a time, when traffic fatalities are in small handfuls at most.
I have. I'm trying to remember where. Yes, commercial airplanes are safer than interstate driving.

As someone mentioned, general aviation isn't nearly as safe as commercial air travel. I don't know how it compares to interstate driving, but it wouldn't surprise me if it's more dangerous, minute per minute, or possibly even mile per mile.

For anecdotes -- yeah, it's true that most incidents don't lead to crashes. I have been on a 747 that had an engine catch on fire. My dad was on a smaller jet whose landing gear didn't descend. We both went through emergency stuff. No one was killed in either incident. (A couple of people got minor scrapes taking the slides down the 747.)
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:03 PM
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Which is safer, being on the Earth, or being on a NASA spacecraft?
Driving kills about 1.5x10-8 per passenger-mile. Flying is 2x10-11. The Shuttle was about 5x10-9. So, not as good as flying, but better than driving. Of course, most people don't drive 3 million miles.

The Shuttle+ISS combo gets within an order of magnitude of flying safety (2x10-10 deaths/passenger-mi) if you stay for 6 months.
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:31 PM
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On a busy highway, you only have a few seconds to react to an emergency.

In a plane, (at altitude) if something goes wrong, there are minutes to react.

Big difference.

However, note that most plane fatalities occur at takeoff or landing
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Old 05-15-2018, 12:03 AM
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I have. I'm trying to remember where. Yes, commercial airplanes are safer than interstate driving.

As someone mentioned, general aviation isn't nearly as safe as commercial air travel. I don't know how it compares to interstate driving, but it wouldn't surprise me if it's more dangerous, minute per minute, or possibly even mile per mile.

For anecdotes -- yeah, it's true that most incidents don't lead to crashes. I have been on a 747 that had an engine catch on fire. My dad was on a smaller jet whose landing gear didn't descend. We both went through emergency stuff. No one was killed in either incident. (A couple of people got minor scrapes taking the slides down the 747.)
General aviation (private planes) are about on par with motorcycles.
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Old 05-15-2018, 12:43 AM
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While we're at it, where do busses and trains slot in? And brundlepods?
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Old 05-15-2018, 12:47 AM
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Statistically, there are exponentially fewer odds of dying in a plane crash than driving a car, per mile (not sure if a study has ever compared travel HOURS however). The difference is 3 things:

1) If something goes wrong with a car, if the driver, you have much more control of your fate than as a helpless passenger in an airplane. Maybe a plane in the hands of a pilot is still safer than a car in the hands of driver, but given the choice of how to die, I think most would take the path where they had the chance to control the outcomes themselves. Then again would you rather control a travelling elephant or ride in a rickshaw?

2) If there is indeed a auto collision you have a high chance of survival; 35,000 feet in the air and the plane explodes, you are pretty much fucked.

3) The thought of the spectacular horror of dying in a plane crash far outweighs that of a car crash for most people (see . . . 9/11) . . ,thus while statistically way smaller, the thought of dying is a plane crash haunts most people more than that of a car crash .As a matter of fact IMO the UNLIKEINESS of dying in a plane crash makes the thought of it even more horrifying in some strange way (I'm glad I'm not THAT guy! OR look at how many Americans dies of Ebola a few years ago v the Flu---what got all the headlines?)

Last edited by russian heel; 05-15-2018 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 05-15-2018, 12:57 AM
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OP here. Some interesting responses. One thing that I think bears mentioning is that statistics, can in fact, deceive. For example, on CBS recently "60 Minutes" did a report on a regional air carrier....Allegiant Air. To summarize, they reported that the airline had numerous incidents both on the ground and in the air, the apparent result of lax maintenance procedures. There were, to quote the report, over "100 serious mechanical incidents, flight control malfunctions, hydraulic leaks and aborted take-offs."

Yet in spite of all of these incidents, Allegiant Air did not have a single fatality on one of its flights for the period examined, which was from January 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017. Therefore, statistically, Allegiant had a perfect record of no flight-related fatalities. Yet were these people flying safe? I would say the answer is no. In many cases their lives in fact may have been in serious danger.

Similarly, the recent tragedy involving Southwest Airlines comes to mind where a woman was killed when an engine part shattered a window, and thus she was partially sucked out of the plane. It's obvious that her life was in danger as the plane traversed the skies, she just wasn't aware of it. Not to mention that if that plane had had a previous flight that day--as Southwest planes often do--passengers on those flights may have been unwittingly in danger as well, but were lucky because the engine part held out during those flights.

The whole point being that statistics--as is often the case in sports--do not necessarily tell the whole story. I have flown often in my life, mostly because of my job. I had only one situation that was alarming....one plane had a sudden drop in altitude while approaching Miami, FL. We all arrived safely, but it was a scary moment.

Alive, yes, but it also makes me wonder how many times---over the hundreds of thousands of miles I flew---might I have been at risk, and simply not known?

Hence the reason for the original question.

Last edited by golffan1963; 05-15-2018 at 12:59 AM.
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Old 05-15-2018, 01:09 AM
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How many mechanical incidents happen in cars? How many of those assholes around you on the road have maintained their cars properly?
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Old 05-15-2018, 02:37 AM
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Originally Posted by golffan1963 View Post
OP here. Some interesting responses. One thing that I think bears mentioning is that statistics, can in fact, deceive.
They certainly can deceive people. For example, youve been deceived into thinking that you understand them. Yet if you did understand the statistics and probability, youd have answered your own question. Im not trying to be flippant, but Im not the first in this thread to suggest that you dont know the stats the way you think you do.

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Originally Posted by golffan1963 View Post
There were, to quote the report [on Allegiant Air] over "100 serious mechanical incidents, flight control malfunctions, hydraulic leaks and aborted take-offs."

<snip>
Therefore, statistically, Allegiant had a perfect record of no flight-related fatalities. Yet were these people flying safe? I would say the answer is no. In many cases their lives in fact may have been in serious danger.
I think youre conflating risk/danger with things you find frightening. Theyre not the same thing. Its not clear how you define flying safe, but clearly those people flew safely between the dates in question.

I agree that Allegiants maintenance issues are troubling, but flying on their planes during the period covered by the report was still considerably safer than driving.


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Originally Posted by golffan1963 View Post
Similarly, the recent tragedy involving Southwest Airlines comes to mind where a woman was killed when an engine part shattered a window, and thus she was partially sucked out of the plane. It's obvious that her life was in danger as the plane traversed the skies, she just wasn't aware of it.
No; thats not obvious at all. Her life wasnt in any more danger than that of any other window-seat passenger on that side of the plane. You seem to say that she was a dead woman flying. But debris knocking out a window like that is a freak occurrence. Her death was not predictable. She wasnt doomed or somehow fated to die.

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Not to mention that if that plane had had a previous flight that day--as Southwest planes often do--passengers on those flights may have been unwittingly in danger as well, but were lucky because the engine part held out during those flights.
Why are you drawing the unwittingly in danger line at flights on the same plane on the same day? Why werent passengers on the same plane on the previous day also unwittingly in danger? What about passengers from the previous week?

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Originally Posted by golffan1963 View Post
<snip>[S]tatistics--as is often the case in sports--do not necessarily tell the whole story.

<snip>

[H]ow many times---over the hundreds of thousands of miles I flew---might I have been at risk, and simply not known?
Hence the reason for the original question.
For events as rare as airplane crashes, statistics dont tell the whole storythey tell the only story.

You were at risk every time you flew, whether you knew it or not. Its just that the risk was very, very low. Theres no such thing as a risk-free decision. You can choose the option with the least risk, but you can never choose a risk-free option. They dont exist.
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Old 05-15-2018, 02:55 AM
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You seem to think that if something goes wrong on an airplane, you're very likely to die. Nope. Most plane crashes don't end in fatality.
And many times, when something goes wrong on an airplane, it's while it's landed. Those stupid pilot lights that come up and what's wonky is the light, not the car? Turns out planes have them too!
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Old 05-15-2018, 03:15 AM
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Commercial air travel is VERY safe.

So safe that even if you use the arbitrary definition of unsafe used in the OP of "chances of being killed by something that was completely beyond my control, that I was unable to prevent or recover from". It would still be safer than driving. A large percentage of car accidents (maybe most deadly ones?) definitely fall into that category.
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Old 05-15-2018, 03:35 AM
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I think that comparing risks in this way serves no purpose. It is the exposure to risk that matters. I drive my car every day and for the most part have avoided injury. I fly less than once a year and have also avoided injury. It follows logically that I am far more likely to suffer an injury on the road than in the air, and I am confident that this logic can be extended to the whole population.

In fact, of course, the comparison is futile. For most journeys flying is not an option, and for some journeys, driving is not a realistic option.

We are all going to die eventually; cutting down on the Big Macks is probably more likely to extend your life than changing your mode of travel.
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Old 05-15-2018, 04:18 AM
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But what about non-commercial aviation especially if measured in passenger-hours, not passenger-miles? Just off the top of my head, John Denver, Richie Valens, Buddy Holly, and John-John all died in plane crashes and I see here I'm missing several others: Otis Redding, Rickie Nelson, Rocky Marciano, Roberto Clemente, etc. How many celebrities died in car crashes?
Paul Walker, James Dean, and Diana were all highly notable car crashes, with significant coincidences to their deaths. Off the top of my head, Patton, Left Eye Lopez, Cliff Burton, and Duane Allman all seem to be celebrities in their own right. I'd wager Google would turn up a few (hundred) more.
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Old 05-15-2018, 04:19 AM
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Originally Posted by golffan1963 View Post
... it also makes me wonder how many times---over the hundreds of thousands of miles I flew---might I have been at risk, and simply not known?
This train of thought might make sense ... if only air travel has close calls and automobile travel never does! I can attest that close calls occur in automobiles indeed the fact I'm still alive makes me a believer in "quantum immortality."

As for fear of dying, I have a friend whose answer was "Relax! You've already taken a fatal dose."
  #35  
Old 05-15-2018, 05:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Chisquirrel View Post
Paul Walker, James Dean, and Diana were all highly notable car crashes, with significant coincidences to their deaths. Off the top of my head, Patton, Left Eye Lopez, Cliff Burton, and Duane Allman all seem to be celebrities in their own right. I'd wager Google would turn up a few (hundred) more.
How many people get run over by a flying plane? Outside of the set of The Incredibles, I mean.
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  #36  
Old 05-15-2018, 06:14 AM
Llama Llogophile Llama Llogophile is offline
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Originally Posted by golffan1963 View Post
I had only one situation that was alarming....one plane had a sudden drop in altitude while approaching Miami, FL. We all arrived safely, but it was a scary moment.
It's mostly been covered, but I'll briefly address this. We have some professional pilots on the boards. I'm one of them, and I think my colleagues will agree that most of the time passengers perceive a "sudden drop" or terrible turbulence or something, it's almost always within the safety tolerance of the plane and not alarming to the pilots.

Can't tell you how many times I've had people tell me they were on a plane that "banked 90 degrees!" or "slammed on the brakes and barely stopped!" or "dropped a thousand feet in a second!" That's almost never the case. It's just that you have a small window facing sideways and no way to interpret the plane's movement other than body feel, which is extremely deceptive.

Wind shear on takeoff and landing can feel dramatic, and can be a safety issue. But much of the time pilots have warning beforehand and reports from previous aircraft about what to expect and severity. We also have strictly defined limits to what constitutes a "stable approach" and will go around if things even begin to go bad.

In all the time I've been flying I've had the plane actually do something I consider extreme perhaps twice. And even then it was momentary and not a big deal. Turbulence and such may seem alarming (and I grant you it's uncomfortable and a nuisance), but very rarely a true safety issue.

Last edited by Llama Llogophile; 05-15-2018 at 06:15 AM.
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Old 05-15-2018, 06:16 AM
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I understand that flying in a metal tube thousands of feet high 'seems' riskier.
But consider:

- planes are carefully maintained; some cars are not
- pilots are highly trained and sober; some cars are driven by bad drivers and drunks
- pilots are sealed from passengers; car drivers can have lots of distractions
- planes have co-pilots; cars (apart from driving instructors) do not
  #38  
Old 05-15-2018, 07:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Strangelove View Post
Driving kills about 1.5x10-8 per passenger-mile. Flying is 2x10-11. The Shuttle was about 5x10-9. So, not as good as flying, but better than driving. Of course, most people don't drive 3 million miles.
Which is really the point. The only way that is makes sense to compare flying to driving is if one has an option between driving and flying between the same two points. Adding the Space Shuttle in the mix is like comparing apples to elephants.

Quote:
Originally Posted by russian heel View Post
1) If something goes wrong with a car, if the driver, you have much more control of your fate[....]

2) If there is indeed a auto collision you have a high chance of survival; 35,000 feet in the air and the plane explodes, you are pretty much fucked.
Someone else made these two points already. They are wrong, and I explained why already.

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Originally Posted by septimus View Post
Airplanes are much safer per passenger-mile, but the stats change if measured per passenger-hour (though not nearly enough, I think, to make planes less safe). This does have a little relevance: Hours spent in travel is more relevant for certain purposes, both business and personal.
How can this be relevant? I want to know the relative risks of two options for covering the same distance. Nobody chooses between 4 hours in a car vs. 4 hours in a plane.

Quote:
Just off the top of my head, John Denver, Richie Valens, Buddy Holly, and John-John all died in plane crashes and I see here I'm missing several others: Otis Redding, Rickie Nelson, Rocky Marciano, Roberto Clemente, etc. How many celebrities died in car crashes?
You're never going to get this study published in a peer-reviewed journal.
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  #39  
Old 05-15-2018, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by septimus View Post
How many celebrities died in car crashes?
https://www.ranker.com/list/famous-p...dent/reference

How many do you need?
  #40  
Old 05-15-2018, 07:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Llama Llogophile View Post
It's mostly been covered, but I'll briefly address this. We have some professional pilots on the boards. I'm one of them, and I think my colleagues will agree that most of the time passengers perceive a "sudden drop" or terrible turbulence or something, it's almost always within the safety tolerance of the plane and not alarming to the pilots.
Not just "most of the time" - more like "virtually all of the time." Turbulence can throw unbelted passengers around the cabin, and the plane itself is absolutely fine. Scary as hell no doubt, but as long as you're wearing your seat belt your risk is low.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Llama Llogophile View Post
It's just that you have a small window facing sideways and no way to interpret the plane's movement other than body feel, which is extremely deceptive.
This speaks to my annoyance, which is related to abrupt control inputs by the pilots. The best ones make gradual control inputs, as if they were a chauffeur doing their professional best to give you a smooth ride while you spread Grey Poupon on your sandwich. OTOH, the worst ones are wanna-be fighter pilots, and they make you wonder if you're dodging traffic with their snap rolls and violent pitch changes. Particularly unsettling is when we're decelerating after touchdown, and suddenly they stomp much harder on the brakes, making me wonder if there's a runway incursion up ahead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by golffan1963
If something does go wrong, you're up the creek without a paddle. You're 35,000 feet in the air, strapped into a chair inside of a metal tube. You have no control over your fate....it's up to the pilot....or just luck. You live or die strapped in your seat.
Your lack of control may make it feel unsafe, but that doesn't mean you are unsafe. On a terrible awful no good very bad day, yes, you get something like AF447, where a weird confluence of a relatively minor hardware malfunction, confusingly-designed controls, and a poorly-communicating flight crew results in the deaths of everyone on board. But the stats you purport to believe in show that this sort of incident is extremely rare. Most of the time there's no problem whatsoever. And on those extremely rare occasions when something does go wrong, the outcome is almost always much better than AF447. As Cracked points out, about 90% of people involved in plane crashes survive them:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cracked
As it turns out, the people who engineer the planes and the people who fly them are pretty good at their jobs. The former have done everything they can to ensure that a plane suddenly doesn't turn into a piece of folded paper when faced with stress, and the latter are trained to handle most situations, whether they be a chunk of the side suddenly coming off or a gremlin-monster scaring William Shatner badly enough for him to cause a scene.
Quote:
Originally Posted by golffan1963
There were, to quote the report, over "100 serious mechanical incidents, flight control malfunctions, hydraulic leaks and aborted take-offs."

Yet in spite of all of these incidents, Allegiant Air did not have a single fatality on one of its flights for the period examined, which was from January 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017. Therefore, statistically, Allegiant had a perfect record of no flight-related fatalities. Yet were these people flying safe? I would say the answer is no. In many cases their lives in fact may have been in serious danger.
This should tell you something about the margin of safety built into commercial aviation. Think of an aviation disaster as being like winning the world's shittiest lottery: you pick all six numbers correctly, you die. Got sloppy maintenance? That locks in one number, but you still need to pick five other numbers correctly to die. Sloppy piloting? That locks in one more number, but you still need to pick four other numbers correctly to die. Thunderstorms in the area when you're on final approach? That locks in a third number, but you'll still need to pick three other numbers correctly to die. Yes, crappy maintenance on Allegiant Air must have increased the risk of a major disaster. How much did it increase it? Probably just a bit.

Allegiant has 100 aircraft. Suppose each aircraft flies once per day (some will fly more often, and some will be grounded, but let's just go with one flight per day per plane). The period described above is about 660 days; 100 flights per day means that Allegiant flew 66,000 flights.

With no crashes.

You do not get through 66,000 flights without crashing if there's actually a "serious danger" somewhere in your fleet. Yes, Allegiant's passengers were arguably at greater risk than the passengers on some other airline. But that's like arguing that I'm more likely to win the lottery if I only have to choose five numbers instead of six: it's still crazy-low odds.
  #41  
Old 05-15-2018, 07:34 AM
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The thing that scares me about flying is that "where do they bury the survivors" question.
  #42  
Old 05-15-2018, 07:43 AM
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Give me a commercial flight flown by a professional any day of the week. When I’m taking a trip that includes a flight I find the actual flight the least stressful part of the trip because I know it’s the part where it’s least likely something will go wrong. Here’s the things I consider, apart from the numbers themselves.

1. The pilots are all well trained, which is a lot more I can say for many of the idiots on the road.

2. The planes are all looked after by professional aircraft mechanics.

3. There are air traffic controllers assisting the pilots with take off and landing.

4. If something does go wrong, there is time for the pilot to react, whereas with a car that say has a blowout things might be perfectly fine one second and then bam, dead the next in a head on collision.

5. Someone else is in charge, so I don’t have to worry about staying constantly alert.

Last edited by FlikTheBlue; 05-15-2018 at 07:44 AM.
  #43  
Old 05-15-2018, 07:55 AM
Llama Llogophile Llama Llogophile is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
Not just "most of the time" - more like "virtually all of the time." Turbulence can throw unbelted passengers around the cabin, and the plane itself is absolutely fine. Scary as hell no doubt, but as long as you're wearing your seat belt your risk is low.
I realize you're agreeing with me, but this sort of undercuts what I was saying. To clarify, I'm talking about what pilots might call "light chop" being recounted later by passengers as a terrifying roller-coaster ride in the sky. Way before we get to people being tossed around the cabin by actual severe turbulence (which does happen, but rarely), passengers frequently perceive minor bumps as terrible, worrisome, metal-bending horror rides.

Not to blame the passengers - as I say, they have little to go by. I'm just making the point that it's nearly always exaggerated well before we get into actual bad turbulence.

Quote:
This speaks to my annoyance, which is related to abrupt control inputs by the pilots. The best ones make gradual control inputs, as if they were a chauffeur doing their professional best to give you a smooth ride while you spread Grey Poupon on your sandwich. OTOH, the worst ones are wanna-be fighter pilots, and they make you wonder if you're dodging traffic with their snap rolls and violent pitch changes. Particularly unsettling is when we're decelerating after touchdown, and suddenly they stomp much harder on the brakes, making me wonder if there's a runway incursion up ahead.
Fair enough, some pilots are smoother than others. But two nitpicks:

Sometimes relatively aggressive braking is necessary because of runway length, density altitude, runway contamination, aircraft weight or a combination of factors. Also, people frequently perceive thrust reverser activation as a problem of some sort. That maybe we're changing our mind to go around, or that we employ the naval aviator technique of going to full throttle at ground contact in case of a missed wire. Nope, just normal thrust reverse.

Second, people often throw around "snap roll" without knowing what it means. It's an actual aerobatic maneuver that is NOT the same thing as simply rolling the plane quickly about the longitudinal axis, as many mistakenly think. It's essentially a horizontal stall, it's very abrupt and can only be done safely in specialized airplanes.

I realize you were using the term colloquially, but I try to educate people on the difference because I hear it a lot.

Last edited by Llama Llogophile; 05-15-2018 at 07:56 AM.
  #44  
Old 05-15-2018, 08:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nava View Post
How many people get run over by a flying plane? Outside of the set of The Incredibles, I mean.
While admittedly rare, didnt this happen once at an airport in the Caribbean (I think either St. Martin or St. Bart) where people watch the planes land from the beach right next to the runway?
  #45  
Old 05-15-2018, 08:06 AM
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But was the plane in flight?
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Old 05-15-2018, 08:17 AM
The wind of my soul The wind of my soul is offline
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Originally Posted by russian heel View Post
3) The thought of the spectacular horror of dying in a plane crash far outweighs that of a car crash for most people (see . . . 9/11) . . ,thus while statistically way smaller, the thought of dying is a plane crash haunts most people more than that of a car crash .As a matter of fact IMO the UNLIKEINESS of dying in a plane crash makes the thought of it even more horrifying in some strange way (I'm glad I'm not THAT guy! OR look at how many Americans dies of Ebola a few years ago v the Flu---what got all the headlines?)
I'm glad you mentioned this, since it's a factor that seems to be left out of many conversations. I hear claims about how silly it is that people seem to be scared of dying from a shark attack, or a terrorist attack, or a plane crash, when you're far more likely to die from a car accident, or a heart attack, or a drug overdose. But that's presuming all deaths are equal, and some deaths seem way more scary than others. Me, I'm scared of high-rise buildings and and underground Metro stations, because I envision a fire or a bomb or a gunman and a whole bunch of people unable to escape because of the limited number of exit points for the large number of people. Is this how I'm most likely to die? Hell no. But the idea of being unable to escape, while knowing that if I don't escape I'll die, is absolutely one of the scariest scenarios my mind conjures up.
  #47  
Old 05-15-2018, 08:28 AM
FlikTheBlue FlikTheBlue is offline
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
But was the plane in flight?
This was the incident I was thinking about.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/nypost....ean-beach/amp/

She wasnt technically run over, but its close enough.
  #48  
Old 05-15-2018, 08:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
Airplanes are much safer per passenger-mile, but the stats change if measured per passenger-hour (though not nearly enough, I think, to make planes less safe). This does have a little relevance: Hours spent in travel is more relevant for certain purposes, both business and personal.



IIUC that favorable-for-aviation figure would be even more more favorable if expressed (as would seem more appropriate) in passenger-km rather than vehicle-km.
There's also the effect that planes carry more passengers per vehicle than cars; so if an airplane is somewhat safer than a car per vehicle-hours, that difference gets magnified when you calculate by passengers. One could probably demonstrate a similar effect for commercial bus lines: slightly safer per vehicle due to driver vetting and training and higher maintenance standards; then magnify by larger passenger loads.
  #49  
Old 05-15-2018, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golffan1963 View Post
Alive, yes, but it also makes me wonder how many times---over the hundreds of thousands of miles I flew---might I have been at risk, and simply not known?
Conversely...how many times, over the hundreds of thousands of miles you've driven / ridden in a car in your life, have you been at risk, and simply not known?

If you drive regularly, every day, your path is constantly crossing the paths of distracted drivers, drunk drivers, drivers whose vehicles aren't properly maintained, and more. We have "close calls" while driving all the time -- the guy who barely stops in time, the guy who goes to change lanes right into you, but realizes at the last moment that you're there, the truck driver who doesn't realize that there's a car in his blind spot, etc. And, by and large, either we're entirely unaware of these close calls, or they cause a momentary adrenaline-filled moment, which we forget about entirely by the end of the day.

It seems like your trepidation is based on a gut feel you have, rather than any actual statistics (because you've already stated that you've seen the stats, and you feel this way anyway), and there isn't anything that we can say that'll change your mind.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 05-15-2018 at 09:33 AM.
  #50  
Old 05-15-2018, 09:42 AM
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I have participated in and chaired many formal risk review sessions and I believe that there is a psychological / evolutionary aspect to this.

Let me give some background : So in risk analysis you can score an event by its probability (chance of occurrence) and impact when it does occur. There is a third aspect I.e. ease of mitigating the event if it occurs, but we will talk about that later.

Now probability in its simplest terms can be High/Medium/Low and similarly impact can be H/M/L. So different permutations of the risks can be (Probability Impact) : HH, HM, HL, MH, MM, ML, LH, LM, LL

All the above risks except LH is instinctively understandable by humans. LH are the risks which Humans buy insurance for like death / floods / fire /
Etc.

LH risks are also very innate and we are all genetically programmed for a fight or flight response. So if you hear movement in a bush, many will immediately have their fight or flight response triggered and adrenaline being pumped. Or if you see a snake or a spider (even though chances are it is harmless) the same response is triggered. Logic or reasoning may over time win but its hard to fight evolution.

The second part is mitigation of an event if it occurs. This is the feeling you have when you buy a gun for self protection or a fire extinguisher. While a fire extinguisher and a gun offers limited mitigation of the bad events, the sense of impact of that event disproportionately decreases in the human mind.
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