THIS WEEK, after a plane crash in San Francisco killed two Chinese teenagers and hospitalized hundreds of passengers, and a small plane crash in Alaska killed all ten people aboard, internet and TV news outlets have been clogged with pictures and videos of smoking plane parts, interviews with terrified passengers, and sound bites from aviation safety experts. It feels like many of these headlines are trying to scare us.
The thing is, it’s still safe to fly.
1. The number of passengers and flight hours on commercial airlines has been on a steady increase since the 1960s, while the number of fatalities and crashes has decreased.
2. In fact, 2002-2012 was the safest ten-year period to fly in America’s commercial flying history. There were 153 fatalities and they all occurred on regional airlines. 1
3. Worldwide, the odds of being on a commercial, private, or military flight where there is a fatality 2:
If flying on one of the world’s 78 major airlines: 1 in 3.4 million
If flying on one of the top 39 airlines in terms of safety record: 1 in 10.0 million
4. Worldwide, the odds of being killed on one of those flights is:
If flying on one of the world’s 78 major airlines:1 in 4.7 million
If flying on one of the top 39 airlines in terms of safety record: 1 in 19.8 million
5. International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that by 2014 there will be 3.3 billion global air travelers. 3