Travelling by plane: Russian roulette?

Discussion in 'Soap Box' started by Sapphire, May 14, 2010.

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  1. Sapphire

    Sapphire Well-Known Member

    Ok, so I assume everybody heard of the recent plane crash. But in the unlikely case that there are people who haven't, here's a link:

    These things happen. I don't think anyone can deny that. And seeing that they happen...does that make travelling by plane a Russian roulette in your mind? It kinda does in mine.

    There are a few places I'd love to go. Like e.g. New York seems a thrilling place to be. And before this recent plane crash I've thought about flying. I thought "The chance that something goes wrong is so small it's negligible". But now, I'm once again very hesitant to fly like I've been before. When I say this to people around me they say things like the following:

    "You can get killed crossing the street just the same"

    "If you let yourself be limited by fear, you end up living in a cave somewhere"

    "Planes are safer than cars. I mean more people get killed by cars than by planes. And you're not gonna stop driving a car either, now are you?"

    I don't know about these arguments... I mean sure there is an amount of danger everywhere but when something goes wrong when you're in a plane there are very few things you can do... It's just not comparable with e.g. being on your bike in a city. Also, when you're in a plane, you don't control anything and when you're in your yourself are behind the steering wheel. You have an amount of control over at least certain things. And of course you shouldn't let fear stop you from living your life. You shouldn't be guided by fear. But surely you should be guided by common sense...? I mean if someone told me that if I were to be on a square in the city on a particular time on a certain date there'd be a chance that I would be shot to death, I'd of course stay away from that square... And isn't it sort of the same with travelling by plane? I mean aren't people choosing to go on planes, knowing that there's a chance it will crash in which case they'll die...?

    I'm not saying that anyone who's choosing to travel by plane is foolish to do so. If I thought that, then I wouldn't have posted this thread as there'd be no point. I'm just thinking out loud here. And I'd really love to hear your thoughts on this. I know there are people here who travel a lot... I'd love to hear what you think.
  2. shades

    shades Staff Alumni

    My father was an aerospace engineer. The majority of crashes fall into two categories.

    1) Pilot and/or Air Traffic Control error (there are far too many issues and details about how and what occurs to mention here)

    2) Age and maintenance of the passenger air fleet

    **My father actually used to call and ask the age of the plane and for specific model #'s, for which he knew how they were being maintained.

    As most of you might surmise, passenger safety is not at the top of the list when it comes to plane maintenance...iT"S MONEY! In general it's safer to fly on the newer model planes. The planes that have been around the longest are subject to stress fractures at a much higher rate than the newer ones.

    So I would agree that one is indeed playing Russian roulette when it comes to air travel. If you're concerned, check the safety records of the airline you intend to fly against the others.

    **By the way, he also mentioned that helicopters have major design flaws and he would never....EVER, get in one of those!

    Based on the info I got from my father over the years I'm scared shitless to get on a plane and must have plenty of meds on hand to do so.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 14, 2010
  3. aoeu

    aoeu Well-Known Member

    A figure I heard a while back is that for traveling less than 450km, it's safer to go by car, but more than 450km it's safer by plane, since planes are more likely to have an incident while taking off or landing and cars are equally likely to have an incident anywhere (I can not confirm this.)

    We're going way faster than our bodies can truly handle. Unless we have perfect machines some deaths are inevitable. In general air travel is quite safe. There are tens (hundreds?) of millions of flights each year and only a handful ever have anything go wrong.

    A crashed plane, a rise in insurance, and a wave of lawsuits costs a lot of money too.
  4. Abacus21

    Abacus21 Staff Alumni

    As aeou's said - flying is incredibly safe, considering that you're essentially flying in a very fast, pressurised metal tube.

    While errors - either by flight crew or Air Traffic Controllers do happen, considering how many millions of flights there are in the world each year, these are rare. However, when an error leads to either an incident, collision or fatal accident, then it is looked into and comprehensive accident reports are written and compiled. Why? Because aviation strives to be the safest it can be - there is always risk involved, as there is in anything in life - drinking and eating, for example! But the risk that is there is minimised by as much as it can be.

    I always feel very safe whenever I step onto an aircraft, because everybody there, in whatever role they're in, are professionals. Also, bear in mind that the Boeing 737 - one of the most widely used aircraft in the world (especially throughout Europe, on short haul flights) and is thus one of the most tested there is.
  5. Lovecraft

    Lovecraft Well-Known Member

    Flying a plane is playing Russian roulette, except the revolver has a few hundred thousand chambers, not six.

    Any engineer will confirm that the biggest problems with the technology they work with are ID10T errors. Fly with reputable airlines to reputable airports the same way you drive well-tested cars on maintained highways.
  6. ~Claire

    ~Claire Well-Known Member

    I'm a nervous flyer, I always have been. Doesn't help that I am addicted to Seconds From Disaster & Air Crash Investigation. It doesn't put me off though, for me the pro's far outweigh the con's. I like my holidays too much.

    When I was younger if I was nervous about flying my Grandad would always tell me I was more likely to be hit by a bus than be in a plane crash. I guess that's always stuck with me.
  7. Abacus21

    Abacus21 Staff Alumni

    I'm addicted to ACI too - fascinating programmes :)
  8. ~Claire

    ~Claire Well-Known Member

    Tis awesome. Although the last series was a wee bit cheesy with their reconstructions that look like they've been taken from a dodgy version of flight simulator.
  9. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    Sure. If you want to be going 400 miles per hour at 30 thousand feet in an aluminum tube with shit for wings, surrounded by suspicious people bearing weapons with no way out and no parachute, then be my guest.
  10. xan

    xan Chat Buddy

    Walking across the road is more dangerous than flying in a plane in my mind... Going down in a plane crash isn't the worst way to go...
  11. Lovecraft

    Lovecraft Well-Known Member

    Flying around on a big piece of dirt is a natural state. What does the Earth do?
  12. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    You're relating two things completely under different circumstances. Way different, bro. The earth is not an aeroplane, there is no person at the controls and there are no controls. It's much better to die on the earth with feet on the ground than falling from the sky I tell you what.
  13. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    At least in a car accident, there is some chance of survival. When the car's engine goes out, you don't have a 99% chance of dying from falling thousands of feet from the sky and exploding. When you're in a plane and it's going down, you know there is very very very little chance of your ass getting out alive.

    But you know, go ahead and fly, lots of people do it safely. Just don't think you can coax my ass into doing it at a whim.

    Hell, I get paranoid just riding in cars and trains.
  14. Lovecraft

    Lovecraft Well-Known Member

    Pretty much 100% of plane accidents happen far lower than cruising altitude - the only real danger spots are taking off and landing, and that's pretty low to the ground A LOT of people have survived plane crashes.
  15. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    TWA 800 was pretty damn high up. It doesn't have to be cruising altitude to be thousands of feet. I can't imagine the suffering those passengers went through. It even kept going up vertically for a few thousand more feet before plunging back down. My god. I have no desire to be on fire, no thanks.

    "A LOT of people have survived plane crashes." LOL Yeah, and a LOT of the plane crashes involve "all passengers and crew aboard were killed."
    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2010
  16. Lovecraft

    Lovecraft Well-Known Member

    The same can be said of car crashes. Also keep in mind only 4 people die on Airliners per 1 000 000 flight hours.
  17. aoeu

    aoeu Well-Known Member

  18. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    Nothing you say here is going to change my perspective. Of course more people will die in car crashes because more people have cars, there are more cars, there's easier access to them, more people have more access to them and spend more time in them than in airplanes. Because of this, obviously the number is higher.

    Your chances of an airplane crashing are very low; your chances of being killed in the event an airplane does crash, are overwhelmingly high.
  19. Lovecraft

    Lovecraft Well-Known Member

    The odds of being struck by an asteroid are astronomically low (pun intended) but your odds of dying if it strikes are pretty much 1:1. Should you live in an underground biodome then?
  20. Prinnctopher's Belt

    Prinnctopher's Belt Antiquities Friend SF Supporter

    And, considering that over 140 million cars on the road, and individuals spend an average over X hours in them every single day of the week, you could just as easily say that cars are relatively safe since only ~40,000 people died in car accidents last year. That's what, 3% fatality rate? That's minute considering the number of cars that get involved in accidents. I'm willing to bet the fatalities are much much higher for deaths per rare airplane accident, when you control for likelihood of fatalities.

    The odds of being a fatality when a plane crashes are much higher than the odds of being struck by an asteroid.
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