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Rated: E · Article · Transportation · #2267488
Have we been told the truth about flying? Look at the facts.
We are often, and authoritively informed that “Flying is by far the safest method of travel” and that “Statistically speaking, you are far more likely to die from a car accident than an air crash.” Few people - especially those intent on flying - question these statements. However, the facts about flying, when examined and evaluated in correct proportion, tell a very different story, one which the aviation industry would not want people to be aware of. While it is definitely true that there are far less air accidents than road accidents each year, the statistics actually show that flying fatalities are not actually as rare as might be suggested and that, when compared with official road travel records, the results reveal a disturbing reality that many people might be very uncomfortable with.

In 2018 (the last pre-Covid year), there were approximately 1.446 billion cars in the world. Assuming a single car journey per day (probably a much higher figure for most), there were approximately 500 billion car journeys in the year.

There were approximately 1.35 million reported car fatalities.

As a percentage of journeys, that amounts to 0.00027% or, approximately – one in 500,000.

There were approximately 40 million flights in the year.

There were a recorded 1,040 fatalities.

As a percentage of journeys, that amounts to 0.0026% or, approximately – one in 40,000.

Based on the above figures (taken from various official sources such as National Airline published records, World Health Organisation Reports, and Insurance company records), the chance of dying in an air crash is at least 12 times greater than dying in a car crash.

The vast majority (over 90%) of car crashes are caused by human error or dangerous driving. Even where extreme weather plays a part, the driver can, and should, take appropriate, preventative action, or even pull over from their journey. Only 0.7% of car accidents are caused by mechanical failure.

Most air crashes are caused by human error (60%). Mechanical failure causes about 20% of air accidents. Weather causes about 10%, although, aircraft are subject to forms of extreme weather that do not affect cars. Unlike cars, pilots can do little to combat weather effects, and they are unable to simply “Pull over.” Sabotage accounts for about 10% of air crashes. Again, this is almost exclusive to aircraft and is not generally a threat to cars.

One major difference between cars and aircraft is the percentage of fatalities in the event of a failure. It is estimated that – of all car accidents, less than 1% are actually fatal. In most car crashes, people survive, with injuries - some severe - some moderate. The usual mechanical parts that are susceptible to malfunction are brakes and steering. Yet, in most modern vehicles, even the failure of brakes or steering do not mean an automatic accident because the car relies of both hydraulic and manual braking systems, and the steering can be operated even with the failure of the “Power-steering.” Any failure of the engine will normally bring the car to a controlled, harmless stop.

However, in almost all air crashes that occur while in flight, few passengers survive. A typical commercial jet is made up of more than 2,000,000 working parts, all relying on each other, and relying on regular and specific maintenance. Most of these parts are vital for the continued flight of the plane. Should one of them fail, the effect can be instantaneous and catastrophic. The reason for this is that - unlike other methods of transport - aircraft defy gravity. Not only do they defy the natural laws of physics, but they do so loaded with hundreds of tons in weight. No matter how many safety features are introduced, and no matter how expert a pilot is, there will inevitably occur a failure of the mechanics, and the aircraft will descend, often uncontrollably. Unlike cars on roads - aircraft are accidents waiting to happen, because they are in a constant struggle against gravity and the dynamics of the air.

Major safety procedures and overhauls have been introduced in the last couple of decades, including safety technology features, and extensive re-training of crew. However, although this may have reduced the number of accidents and deaths, it has far from prevented them completely. In fact, between the years 2000 and 2018 there were 3,062 recorded flying accidents, resulting in 19,836 deaths. This does not include the 2,753 fatalities of the Twin Towers attacks in the USA, which could only have been perpetrated using massive aircraft, and not any other kind of transport.

Airline disasters have a history of attempted blame-shifting and cover ups by the industry. In contrast, there is no obvious agenda that would prompt the same actions in car accidents. In fact, insurance companies would make every effort to blame anyone or anything for a car accident, in order to avoid paying out, whereas, in air disasters, the owning company always tries to point the blame away from their aircraft, to minimise the impact on it's flying reputation, and consequently, their profits. In the early 2000's, it was reported that, despite extensive new training guidelines and State-of-the-art technologies introduced at San Francisco International Airport, there were still over 20 “Runway Incursions” (near misses) each and every year. In fact, Wall Street Journal, Carl Bialik quoted industrial engineer Scott Shappell as saying, “All you hear about are crashes, but it’s the near misses that are telling. If you only knew how many near misses there are in aviation, you would never fly again.”

This article is not designed to frighten passengers, it is simply an attempt to inform them of the actual realities that they face. There is too much propaganda and misinformation being spouted by those who have a commercial interest in sending massive aircraft full of uninformed people, up into our over-polluted skies. And on that final note - one airliner's pollution level is equivalent to about 300 cars.
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