How Dangerous Is Air Travel?

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On 24th March, 2015, Germanwings flight 4U9525 set off for Dusseldorf from Barcelona airport.

But 40 minutes after takeoff, the plane hurtledinto the German Alps at over 400 miles an hour.


All 150 people onboard were killed onimpact.

Recordings recovered from the wreckage revealpilot Andreas Lubiz deliberately crashed the aircraft.

The passengers were completely athis mercy.

Just 8 months later, a passenger plane wasblown up mid-flight after ISIL planted a bomb on board.

224 people were killed.

Global terrorism soared 25% between 2016 and2017, and poses a serious threat to aeroplane passengers.

In May 2017 the then U.


Secretary of HomelandSecurity, John Kelly, claimed terrorists were “obsessed” with downing planes, “particularlyif it’s a US carrier, particularly if it’s full of mostly US folks.

It’s real.

” His comments reflect growing fears since 2001,when members of terror group al-Qaeda flew passenger planes into the Twin Towers andThe Pentagon.

With over 3,000 fatalities and 6,000 more with serious injuries, this wasthe biggest terror attack in U.



Three years later two Russian passenger planeswere blown up by Chechen suicide bombers.

Airport security had let the female attackersonto the plane without asking to see their passports.

According to the Air Aviation Authority, therewere 26 plane hijackings in the year 2000 alone.

But, more recent figures indicate JohnKelly may be stoking unnecessary anxiety.

Between 2006 and 2014 there were fewer than30 hijackings.

The chance of being killed on a plane as theresult of a terrorist attack is actually tiny, at under 0.


Between 115 and 360 people die on board everyyear.

This is tragic, but a small fraction of the 8 million people who travel by planeeach day.

In fact, the most lethal risks of air travelare not what you might expect.

Airline captain Tom Bunn says people who flyfrequently should invest in a gas mask.

This is because of possible freak fires, whichcan be unstoppable whilst in the air.

In 1983 a sudden bathroom fire on an Air Canadaflight left pilots fighting against time to make an early landing.

They successfully divertedand landed at a Northern Kentucky airport without fatalities.

But when the plane dooropened and fresh oxygen rushed in, it sent the interior up in flames, killing 23 people.

A 2004 Journal of Environmental Health Researchstudy found the risk of catching a cold was more than 100 times higher on a plane journey,than outside of one.

And, disturbingly, people who regularly travel by plane have significantlyhigh chances of contracting lethal diseases.

Cabin crew of both genders have a 30% higherthan average chance of getting breast cancer, as well as the deadly skin cancer, melanoma.

This is because the intensity of ultravioletradiation increases by 15% every 3,000 feet above sea level.

As flights often go 35,000feet above sea level, air travel can kill slowly.

Despite being the shortest part of a flight,landing is the most dangerous part for passengers.

25% of accidents take place during touchdown- mostly because of the plane’s close proximity to the ground and other hazards.

But even these do not all end in death.

In2017, a plane burst into flames as it crash landed at Wau airport in South Sudan airport.

Authorities feared all on board were dead.

In fact, the opposite happened: the impactof the crash burst the doors open – enabling all passengers and crew to run to safety beforethe plane was utterly destroyed in the fire.

Gruesome incidents can also be caused by completelyunforeseeable factors.

In 2001 a Ukrainian missile accidentally hit a plane over theBlack Sea during a training exercise.

All 78 people on board were killed.

Thankfully, 96% of plane crash victims escapedeath.

And accidents themselves are very rare.

There is a 1 in 29 million chance of perishingdue to an accident on a commercial flight.

Even in the most serious accidents, the chancesof living to tell the tale are a surprisingly high 77%.

A 2007 study by Popular Mechanics found thatthe safest place to sit on a plane is the back.

The seats in front of the wings havea 49% survival rate – compared to the 69% survival rate for seats behind the wings.

Consequently, the more you pay for a flight,the higher chance you have of dying.

In 2012 Channel 4 ran an intriguing experiment, crashinga Boeing 727 full of plastic dummies into Mexico’s Sonoran Desert.

The “passengers”in first and business class were completely wiped out, because the luxury seating areasare situated at the front of the plane.

In contrast, 78% of passengers from standardclass would have survived.

However, statistically flying is the safestmode of travel.

There are just 0.

07 deaths for every billion fliers, compared to themost dangerous way to travel – riding a motorcycle, which yields 212 deaths per billion motorcyclejourneys.

Freakily, fear of dying in a plane crash maybe more lethal than flying itself.

After the Twin Towers attacks, plane use dropped byaround 30% in the States.

Consequently, road use surged, making it amuch more dangerous way to travel.

Psychologist Dr Gerd Gigerenzer says that road deaths increasedas a result, with 1,595 more Americans killed on the road than the previous year.

Importantly, with each dangerous incident,new regulations are brought in to prevent something similar from happening again.

AfterAndreas Lubiz murdered his passengers in the Germanwings crash, the International Air TransportAssociation introduced rules that prevent pilots from being alone in the cockpit duringa flight.

Recent technological breakthroughs have alsoresulted in aeroplanes becoming a lot safer.

These include the Enhanced Ground ProximityWarning System, which alerts pilots that they are approaching the ground or a mountain ata dangerous speed.

Increased anti-terror regulations, such asthe ban on liquids in containers bigger than 30 ml in hand luggage, have also made flyingsafer.

Planes can be deathtraps.

But studies andstatistics prove that, despite tragic accidents or terrorist incidents, flying is extremelysafe for the most part.

The horror stories that have happened over the years are a definiteminority.

And, when these events do take place, regulations are brought in to ensure theydo not happen again.

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