How safe is flying really?

I think in my opinion think that itis dangerous, especially for long duration flights, like the one I’ve just been on from Australia, from there to England, I was shitting my kecks, I just couldn’t relax.
Can someone reassure me, and give me the facts of how safe and dangerous it is?

This site documents plane crash fatalities. Assuming I’m reading their tables correctly, they list 1794 deaths in 2001 (including the 4 planes hijacked on Sept. 11). That’s a world-wide total.

In 2001, 3443 people died in traffic accidents in England alone.

Relatively speaking, you were in mortal if not suicidal danger if you drove or were driven to the airport. The danger dropped to mild when you got on the plane.

Must be that “King’s English,” I only understand about half of that sentence. :slight_smile:

If every traffic accident in the US received the same air time on the national news, it would have to be 3 hours long everyday. Flying is perceived as more dangerous because the incidents get more coverage. If I get more time I’ll hunt down actual statistics from the NTSB or NHTSA.

If it becomes a real problem, maybe consult your local therapist?

Everyone views flying as more dangerous because if something bad does happen to the plane you die.

You’re gonna fall 20,000+ feet and probably explode on impact.

But when you picture a car accident you don’t think of slamming head on into a car doing 100 miles per hour when you’re doing 120 miles.

It’s the whole mental image thing.

Only about 20% of all aircraft accidents in the U.S. result in a fatality.

When planes crash, it’s spectacular, and frequently lots of people die at once. But as Bryan Ekers points out, flying is far safer than getting on the highway, something people do every day without even thinking twice about.

People get a lot more nervous about flying because there is a loss of control, you put your life into the pilot’s hands. Think about this: the pilot doesn’t want to crash any more than you do, so he or she is going to do all he/she can to make sure you get where you’re going. Airplanes are inspected far more thoroughly before every flight than your car is before you take it on the road, and they’re far more regulated too.

Flying is safe, really.

If I didn’t think it was safe, I wouldn’t be doing it for a living.

There’s a saying in aviation: “The most dangerous part of any flight is the drive to the airport.”

Lately, I’m believing this even more. It seems the summer brings out all the bad drivers. I’ve had about a dozen traffic related scares this summer as the result of (I believe) people driving very poorly. They almost all happened while I was driving to and from my job at the airport, where I fly all day long. So that saying has been playing in my head all summer.

Apart from those experiences there is also this: There are far fewer morons up there. Most pilots are well trained, go to great lengths to see and avoid other air traffic, and are courteous and polite in areas of heavy traffic.

So I’ll take being in the plane to being in a car any day.

Flying is perfectly safe, apart from the odd bit of air rage.
Making a landing that you can walk away from is the hard part. :smiley:

Seriously though, I believe that if you count fatalities per journey, rather than fatalities per kilometre, air travel doesn’t score too highly. IIRC, rail is the safest on a per journey basis.

Especially in Great Brittain, right? :slight_smile:

Yup, even in the UK.

And I know you’re joking… aren’t you?

Well, let’s just say the British railway system has earned quite a reputation for accidents. Unfortunately, so has the Dutch as of late. Privatisation just doesn’t always work, I guess.

OK, I gotta get into it a little more, though:

This is not a valid comparison. I recently had a friend of mine say the same thing, and it took me over ten minutes to convince her, so let’s hope you’re smarter. :slight_smile:

The thing is, the kilometers DO matter. Travel isn’t travel for travel’s sake, it’s getting from A to B (well in 95% of all cases, anyway). The question you should ask is not “Is there more risk involved with a one hour flight, or a one hour train ride?”. It should be: “if I travel from London to Manchester, which method of transportation poses the most risk to a fatal accident: train or air travel?”

It’s the former, I’m afraid. Air travel is inherently safer.

Driving gives the impression of being in control. You’re in control of your own vehicle if you drive within safe limits. However, you have to take into account all the other drivers on the road. Any one of them could be a freaking maniac.

(I mean, the way those Dutch drive, for example. Overtaking is practically an extreme sport over there, at least of past threads on this board are anything to go by ;))

In the interest of accuracy, I have to point out that the saying isn’t really true. Flying magazine had an article last year (or thereabouts) that exposed this as a “little white lie” – at least as far as General Aviation (“little airplanes”) is concerned. If you look at the statistics (which I’m too groggy to look for at the moment) I think you’ll find flying a General Aviation aircraft is slightly more dangerous than driving. But…

Flying light aircraft is very safe. That’s the thought behind the saying. Some people are terrified of “little airplanes”, but the fact is they have an excellent safety record. As other people have pointed out, the reason the news covers airplane crashes is because they’re news. It doesn’t happen that often. I read somewhere that statistically you’re eight times more likely to be involved in a car wreck than in an airplane crash, but an airplane crash is eigh times more likely to be fatal. But again: According to the Nall Report from a few years ago, only about 20% of all aviation crashes result in a fatality. And flying has been getting safer every year, for many years.

Another thing to remember: Many, many light aircraft crashes involve pilots who fly into weather conditions they are not equipped to handle (perhaps the best known recent event is the crash of John Kennedy Jr.), poor judgement on the part of a pilot (“Let me just buzz my neighbour…”, overloading the aircraft, trying to take off with too much weight, forgetting to perform a checklist item – hey, that’s why there are checklists!), or simply running out of gas. Airline pilots are more highly trained, are required to undergo recrrent training more often than GA pilots, usually fly above bad weather, and have more standardized maintenance on their aircraft. (Note to the other pilots here: I know there are many rules for maintenance, but you know what I mean.)

When you take personal aircraft out of the equation, I believe “The most dangerous part of any flight is the drive to the airport,” holds true. That is, flying on a commercial airliner is safer than driving.