I am not a nervous flyer, but I feel like I’m never very far away from being one. I understand that the act of getting a plane to leave the Earth is one undertaken very much in accordance with the natural laws of physics but, to me, the act is still deeply… unnatural. We evolved to wander around the Serengeti eating berries, not to be crammed into a tube with 200 other people and launched at extremely high speed through the skies. It isn’t right.
Despite the uncanniness of the experience, hopping on a passenger jet isn’t as fraught with danger as it seems it should be, with aviation consultancy group To70 noting in their year in review that zero people died in passenger jet crashes in 2017.
The Independent, which described 2017 as the “safest year in history for passengers“, spoke to To70’s Adrian Young who said that safety practices are at an incredible level but that this particularly safe year doesn’t necessarily indicate a permanent trend:
It is unlikely that this historic low will be maintained; in part, these very positive figures rest on good fortune. Nevertheless, the safety level that civil aviation has achieved is remarkable.
The risks to civil aviation remain high as shown by the seriousness of some of the non-fatal accidents.
Despite the impressive numbers on passenger aircraft, there were still a number of fatal accidents on smaller charter flights, including the seaplane crash that saw six killed in Sydney on New Year’s Eve. In total, the report – which only includes aircraft weighing upwards of 5,700kg – marked 13 fatalities.
The report also noted the increased risk of fires aboard aircraft from potentially volatile lithium-ion batteries in personal electronic devices – what you might call the ‘Samsung Galaxy Note 7 effect‘.
Statistically speaking, the report concludes that the rate for accidents on large commercial aircraft is about 0.06 accidents per million flights, or one per every 16 million flights. You’re probs going to be alright, hey.