Monday, July 8, 2013

Air Travel Fears and Accomplishments

The Fourth of July holiday weekend brought celebrations, parties and friends...

But, unfortunately, it also brought some tragedy. Over the weekend, there were two fatal plane crashes. The first was an Asiana airlines flight that crashed while landing at San Francisco's airport on Saturday. The plane apparently lost speed and hit the ground, killing two passengers and injuring hundreds of others. It is believed that the pilot did not have much experience flying Boeing 777 planes, and it was his maiden flight to that airport on that jet.
Asiana Airlines crash. Source: CNN

The second was an air taxi that crashed at a small airport in Alaska, killing all 10 people on board. It is still unknown exactly what caused the crash, and investigators have been sent to the small town to determine what happened.

While the events are horrible, there is a silver lining. When events like these happen, we tend to forget that air travel is as safe as it's ever been. According to officials, the San Francisco crash was the first fatal crash in a commercial airline in the U.S. since February 2009. Accidents for commercial aviation have been extremely low the last 10 years, and the number of accidents per 100,000 flight hours is also very low. This means that the risk of death is pretty slim (1 in 45 million flights).

The reason for the decline is mostly attributed to more reliable planes and engines, which have been helped by advanced navigation and warning technology. There is more communication among pilots, airlines and regulators about flying hazards and best practices to avoid them. And in the off chance there is a crash, passengers are more likely to survive nowadays.

I'm not suggesting that these stories are not horrible, they will certainly remain in my mind the next time I board a plane. However, I hope the events and investigations will lead to further improvements in air travel so that we can continue to keep accidents and fatalities to a minimum.

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