Plane Crashes and Shark Attacks Still Unlikely

June 5, 2009


Despite the tragic loss of 228 lives on an Air France Airbus A330 plane with 228 people on board disappeared over the Atlantic on Monday on a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, air travel is still the safest mode of transport.

Like shark attacks, aviation accidents make ‘good’ news.  This is a shame for people like my brother who has an unfounded anxiety about air travel.  So it seems timely to be reminded of a few facts.

The Statistics

Some interesting statistics about air travel:

Fatality rate (commerical flight): 4.3 deaths per 1,000,000 flight hours
Odds of being killed in a single flight: 1 in 13.57 millon
Survival rate of crashes involving fatalities: 24%
Likelihood of dying in a car accident vs plane: 62 times more likely
Likelihood of dying in motorbike accident vs plane: 2178 times more likely

Sources: 1, 2

If you really must entertain an irrational fear of flying, this chart suggests that you should do it mainly in the first few and last few minutes of flight (where it is reported that 68% of all accidents are likely to occur) … at least that way, the rest of us can get some rest!

The Last Word

A brilliant documentary series by the UK’s Chanel Four, “Black Box”, more than ten years ago (and unfortunately not available of DVD), surmised the [approximately] eight-part series with this sobering statistic:

‘If you flew every day of your life for the rest of your life, [statistically] you would be 800 years old before you were involved in an aviation accident; and even then – chances are, you would survive it.

Update: 14th June 2009 – Lightening Strike on 747 (Video)

I was always of the impression that planes were impervious to lightening strikes-  this kind of upholds that thinking:

Photo credit: Drewski2112

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About Justin Moss

An information and engineering technologist. Unabashedly opinionated, open-minded and an oft overthinker. Born Sydney Australia, home of the 'Southerly Buster'

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2 Responses to “Plane Crashes and Shark Attacks Still Unlikely”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Yes, but how many have died in a blogging accident?

    Remember the non-flying Dutchman? Dennis Bergkamp drove all over Europe to avoid flying to his Arsenal games.


  1. And Some Will Die: Risk and Reality on the Road | The Psychology of Wellbeing - August 31, 2010

    […] about it in any kind of a logical way.  The best example of this is peoples’ irrational fears of plane crashes and shark attacks.  Many people are afraid to get on an airplane but don’t think twice about spending every day […]

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