How Dangerous Is Flying?

On 24th March, 2015, Germanwings flight 4U 9525 set off for Dusseldorf from Barcelona airport But 40 minutes after takeoff, the plane hurtled into the German Alps at over 400 miles an hour

All 150 people onboard were killed on impact Recordings recovered from the wreckage reveal pilot Andreas Lubiz deliberately crashed the aircraft The passengers were completely at his mercy Just 8 months later, a passenger plane was blown up mid-flight after ISIL planted a bomb on board 224 people were killed

Global terrorism soared 25% between 2016 and 2017, and poses a serious threat to aeroplane passengers In May 2017 the then US Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, claimed terrorists were “obsessed” with downing planes, “particularly if 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 and The Pentagon With over 3,000 fatalities and 6,000 more with serious injuries, this was the biggest terror attack in US history Three years later two Russian passenger planes were blown up by Chechen suicide bombers

Airport security had let the female attackers onto the plane without asking to see their passports According to the Air Aviation Authority, there were 26 plane hijackings in the year 2000 alone But, more recent figures indicate John Kelly may be stoking unnecessary anxiety Between 2006 and 2014 there were fewer than 30 hijackings The chance of being killed on a plane as the result of a terrorist attack is actually tiny, at under 0

0002% Between 115 and 360 people die on board every year This is tragic, but a small fraction of the 8 million people who travel by plane each day In fact, the most lethal risks of air travel are not what you might expect Airline captain Tom Bunn says people who fly frequently should invest in a gas mask

This is because of possible freak fires, which can be unstoppable whilst in the air In 1983 a sudden bathroom fire on an Air Canada flight left pilots fighting against time to make an early landing They successfully diverted and landed at a Northern Kentucky airport without fatalities But when the plane door opened and fresh oxygen rushed in, it sent the interior up in flames, killing 23 people A 2004 Journal of Environmental Health Research study 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 significantly high chances of contracting lethal diseases Cabin crew of both genders have a 30% higher than average chance of getting breast cancer, as well as the deadly skin cancer, melanoma This is because the intensity of ultraviolet radiation increases by 15% every 3,000 feet above sea level As flights often go 35,000 feet 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 In 2017, 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 impact of the crash burst the doors open – enabling all passengers and crew to run to safety before the plane was utterly destroyed in the fire

Gruesome incidents can also be caused by completely unforeseeable factors In 2001 a Ukrainian missile accidentally hit a plane over the Black Sea during a training exercise All 78 people on board were killed Thankfully, 96% of plane crash victims escape death And accidents themselves are very rare

There is a 1 in 29 million chance of perishing due to an accident on a commercial flight Even in the most serious accidents, the chances of living to tell the tale are a surprisingly high 77% A 2007 study by Popular Mechanics found that the safest place to sit on a plane is the back The seats in front of the wings have a 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, crashing a 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 areas are situated at the front of the plane In contrast, 78% of passengers from standard class would have survived However, statistically flying is the safest mode of travel There are just 0

07 deaths for every billion fliers, compared to the most dangerous way to travel – riding a motorcycle, which yields 212 deaths per billion motorcycle journeys Freakily, fear of dying in a plane crash may be more lethal than flying itself After the Twin Towers attacks, plane use dropped by around 30% in the States Consequently, road use surged, making it a much more dangerous way to travel Psychologist Dr Gerd Gigerenzer says that road deaths increased as 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 After Andreas Lubiz murdered his passengers in the Germanwings crash, the International Air Transport Association introduced rules that prevent pilots from being alone in the cockpit during a flight Recent technological breakthroughs have also resulted in aeroplanes becoming a lot safer These include the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System, which alerts pilots that they are approaching the ground or a mountain at a dangerous speed Increased anti-terror regulations, such as the ban on liquids in containers bigger than 30 ml in hand luggage, have also made flying safer

Planes can be deathtraps But studies and statistics prove that, despite tragic accidents or terrorist incidents, flying is extremely safe for the most part The horror stories that have happened over the years are a definite minority And, when these events do take place, regulations are brought in to ensure they do not happen again

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