Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Air Travel is Still Safe

MH17 wreckage – still burning. Reuters, July 17, 2014 

The tail section of TransAsia Airways flight GE222 is pictured as rescue workers and firefighters search through the wreckage the morning after it crashed near the airport at Magong on the Penghu island chain. Photo credit: SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images


Wreckage from Air Algérie flight AH5017 at the crash site, where the second black box was found. Photograph: SiaKambou/AFP/Getty Images 

Aisha Gani wrote on air travel in UK’s The Guardian on July 24, 2014. Or more precisely, she wrote that statistically-speaking, air travel is still safe. Especially in the light of four major disasters this year – two of them involving our very own Malaysian Airlines. 

MH370 has been missing since March 08. MH17 was shot down on July 17. Taiwan’s TransAsia Airways flight GE222 met its end on July 23 – it flew from the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan and crashed while trying to land in the scenic Penghu archipelago in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China, taking 48 lives and injuring 10. And Air Algérie flight AH5017‬ from Ouagadougou, Burkino Faso to Algiers, Algeria also crashed on July 24, in a location 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of the Burkina Faso border in the Malian town of Gossi and killing all 118 on board. 

One can be forgiven if we suddenly develop a fear of flying. It is as if this year is the season of aviation calamities. But there’s really nothing to worry. 

Last year, more than 3 billion people flew safely on 36.4 million flights and there were only 81 aviation accidents, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). That was below the five-year average of 86 accidents per year, and the equivalent of one accident per 2.4 million flights. 

And only twenty percent of these accidents caused fatalities; there were 210 fatalities from commercial aviation accidents in 2013, a reduction from the 414 people who lost their lives in 2012 – despite there being a record low of 75 accidents that year. There were 490 deaths in 2011 and a total of 92 accidents. There was a much higher figure of 786 fatalities in 2010, and 94 accidents. In 2009, there were 685 fatalities and 90 accidents. 

Statistics is useful when it is to inform us that we shouldn’t be so fearful because the probability of dying in an air crash is not significant! 

Of course, 2014 has not been a good year, particularly when we consider the lives lost. Seven hundred and one perished. (Note: The numbers include those in MH370).

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