Even if you can’t wait to get to your tropical getaway or your cousin’s wedding, the notion of boarding a flight could make you nervous. You’re not alone if you’re frightened of flying.
Between 2.5% and 6.5% of Americans genuinely have a phobia of flying, while about 40% of Americans express some level of terror at the mere prospect of taking to the skies. These pointers can be useful if you’ll do virtually anything to avoid cruising altitude.
Long-distance travel by air is thought to be the safest option because passing away in a plane crash is incredibly uncommon. Why then do our minds retain the extremely unusual occasions when something goes wrong?
According to Dr Luana Marques, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, it comes down to confirmation bias, which causes us to seek out information that confirms our preexisting opinions.
Improving safety over time
According to Harvard University research, driving a car is actually far riskier than flying in the US, Europe, and Australia. One in 1.2 million people experience an accident when flying, and one in 11 million of those accidents result in death. On the other hand, your chance of dying in a car accident is one in 5,000.
This subject has been studied by numerous US academic institutions, not just Harvard. In fact, an MIT research from 2020 examined the development of airplane safety during the previous decades. Passenger fatalities drastically decreased from 2008 to 2017 compared to the decade prior.
A fatality occurred for every 7.9 million passengers who boarded an aircraft at that time, and from 1998 to 2007, the rate was one death for every 2.7 million passengers. As you go further in the past, the tendency is much more obvious.
In fact, there was one fatality per 1.3 million boardings between 1988 and 1997, and from 1978 to 1987, there was one per 750,000 boardings. This again decreased to one fatality per 350,000 boardings between 1968 and 1977.
Different rates for different regions
Undoubtedly, there are some geographical disparities in the statistics. Airlines that operate in the EU, China, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Israel pose the least risk to travelers. Only one fatality per 33.1 million passengers boarded between 2008 and 2017 across these nations. The higher-risk airlines, however, originated from underdeveloped nations, including some in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
In these locations, the overall risk was found to be one fatality per 1.2 million passenger boardings. But, even here, the safety culture had improved dramatically, from one fatality per 400,000 boardings between 1998 and 2007.
What’s making aviation so much safer?
There are many components that work together to provide the current safe environment for air travel. To guarantee a safe flight, the flight crew, air traffic controllers, and dispatchers all collaborate. Any modifications to the plan are carefully reviewed by all stakeholders to prevent errors. If you’re interested, you can read the article from Simple Flying that looked at the ways in which aviation safety has advanced here!You may feel secure knowing that the people traveling with you on an airplane are highly qualified and certified. Before a pilot may work on a commercial airliner in the United States, they must have logged at least 1,500 flying hours. That’s about nine weeks of nonstop travel!
The safety of the airplane itself is added to all of this. With each successive decade, technology has advanced rapidly, bringing new tools and IT to the cockpit and reducing the possibility of human error. Engines are constructed to be more dependable, and every critical system is designed with redundancy (having a backup plan) in mind. The many strict regulatory contexts in which airlines must operate are the cherry on top of all of this. Every time a passenger boards a plane, they can feel safe because agencies like the FAA and EASA have tight rules for maintenance, reporting, training, and operations.