Flying can be hard for people. For some, it’s the fear of crashing and dying. For others, it’s the fear of being 35,000 feet in the air. Although, according to statistics, odds and in-air incidents resulting in no loss of life, there’s no need to fear.
There were zero fatalities globally on commercial passenger jets in 2017, according to a Dutch Aviation consulting firm To70 and the Aviation Safety Network. This means 2017 was the safest year commercially in aviation history.
This has lowered the world-wide fatal accident rate to 0.06 per million flights, or one fatal accident for every 16 million jet airline flights (jet or turbo fan engines). Though experiencing an accident in a plane is slightly higher, at about one in every 3 million.
Although, in 2017 there were 10 fatal crashes which resulted in 78 deaths with turboprop (propellor aircraft) planes in 2017.
The most recent numbers from Transport Canada about motor vehicle collision reports date back to 2015, which saw 1,858 fatalities. This means a sold out Air Canada Airbus A319 (120 seats) would have to crash every day for 15 days to equal the amount of vehicle fatalities in Canada per year.
Air Canada is the country’s largest airline. It has not experienced a fatal accident since June 2, 1983 when a McDonell Douglas DC-9 (Air Canada Flight 797) from Dallas, TX to Toronto, Ont., had a fire in the bathroom, resulting in an emergency landing at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky l Airport. A sudden influx of oxygen caused a flash fire, killing 23 of the 41 on board.
The Airline’s most recent incident was on Mar. 29, 2015 when AC Flight 624 was attempting to land at Halifax Airport after arriving from Toronto. The plane was in a holding pattern due to a snow storm. On approach, the Airbus A320 hit the runway lights and power lines, knocking out power and communications at the airport. It then impacted the ground about 300 metres short of the runway, breaking off its landing gear in the process.
The plane proceeded to slide down the runway and lose one of its engines. All 138 on board survived.
Air Canada’s rival, and low-cost airline, WestJet, has never experienced a fatal accident in its 22 years.
When looking at the odds of death from other means in life, air travel benefits the traveler.
According to the University of California at Berkeley and Odyssey.com, there is a one in 13,000 chance of you being struck by Lightning, a one in 840,000 chance of drowning in your own bathtub, and a one in ten million chance of becoming president of the United States.
Maybe someone’s fear isn’t of crashing but rather fearing they may be part of a 9/11 repeat.
Nate Silver, editor-in-chief of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight.com, looked at the numbers from the Bureau of Transportation, finding there is one incident of terror for every 16,553,385 departures.
You’re more likely to be eaten by a shark than experience an act of terror on a plane.
What if an incident happens in the air where both engines stop working on the plane? It can still glide to a safe landing. Canada has one of the worlds most famous incidents of this.
This is known as the “Gimli Glider.” On July, 23, 1983, Air Canada Flight 143, a Boeing 767, was en-route from Montreal to Edmonton when it ran out of fuel, losing hydraulic pressure and engines, due to both the grounds crew at Montreal Dorval Airport (now Pierre Trudeau International Airport) and the pilots forgetting Canada had switched to the metric system.
A small air turbine was deployed, giving Captain Robert Pearson and First Officer Maurice Quintal enough control of the plane to glide it to a former Royal Canadian Air Force base in Gimli, Manitoba, where Quintal had trained. They attempted to land the plane with its back landing gear locked into place but the nose gear was not.
Upon landing on runway 32L, which had become a racing track, the nose gear collapsed, two tires popped and the aircraft slid down the runway.
The plane came to a stop just 100 feet from spectators. No lives were lost, as all 69 passengers and crew on board survived the 17 minute long ordeal.
Pilots are highly trained, many have military flying experience and know what to do in crisis situations, airlines have safety regulations in place to reduce risks of crashes, as do federal governments. Statistics and odds are also on the passenger’s side.
Air Travel is a feat many thought would never happen, but it’s now the worlds safest method of travel.
No need to fear flying.