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Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > How Risky Is Air-Travel?      Home login  
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 Froksy
Joined: 11/24/2013
Msg: 1
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How Risky Is Air-Travel?Page 1 of 2    (1, 2)
And how Satisfactory is civil aircraft design and construction, or pilot-behaviour? And are cleverly-presented statistics deceiving us? I'm an air-crash survivor who's concerned that air-travel may not be as safe as it could be. And I tend to believe that even without much knowledge of aerodynamics or an understanding of aeronautical engineering, some of us could, with limited funding, make planes safe enough for most of us. Helicopters too! In the absence of the back of the cigarette-packet, a plain white table-napkin would do – the experts don't inspire me
 motown_cowgirl
Joined: 12/22/2011
Msg: 2
How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 5:46:07 AM
then don't fly. it isn't required.

you do realize, don't you, that regardless of the safety features of the particular vehicle in question, your chances of dying in your car on the highway are greater by more than several orders of magnitude?

as a pilot, i believe that planes are already safe enough for most of us. I also believe that light civil aircraft are inherently safer than the commercial "heavies" under certain conditions. but if you have a suggestion for how to make them safer then I would be interested in hearing it.

helicopters, on the other hand, are inherently unstable so the safest thing to do is to just not fly them. however I have to say that if I had been mangled in a car wreck, I would be more than happy to let a helicopter fly me to the nearest trauma center.
 Walts
Joined: 5/7/2005
Msg: 3
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How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 6:03:14 AM

And how Satisfactory is civil aircraft design and construction, or pilot-behaviour?


Wow. We got a design question. Then the construction. And then one about the pilot. I'm surprised you never threw in anything about air traffic controllers or the maintenance guys.

Can you see the failure of your thought process and question yet???

If you start from ground zero when there was no plane and worked thru the steps until that planes first flight with passengers on it, you would see there could be a hiccup anywhere along the way. Checks and balances. We are always learning from our mistakes. Did ya hear that government has decided to implement a new rule starting January 1st that will give the pilots more sleep between jobs? They didn't have that rule on December 31st. I would say, just by that rule alone, air travel is now at the very least, a less "risky"???? You tell me.
 Froksy
Joined: 11/24/2013
Msg: 4
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How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 8:36:37 AM
FINERY WON’T FLY THEM

Why should pilots wear moustaches?
Epaulettes plus air-eyeglasses,
Uniforms, with golden flashes.
Swooping low – to make close passes;
Banking, stalling – causing crashes
How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 9:02:34 AM
You are more than 10 times as likely to arrive safely at the next airport after getting on the airplane as you are to survive the drive to the airport... even in the countries that have the worst aviation safety records.
 3ffervescent
Joined: 7/1/2010
Msg: 6
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How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 9:22:28 AM
Fly Qantas they have never crashed.
 Froksy
Joined: 11/24/2013
Msg: 7
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How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 9:30:58 AM
Only if you'll hold my hand
 motown_cowgirl
Joined: 12/22/2011
Msg: 8
How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 9:46:17 AM
^^^^get a room!


Why should pilots wear moustaches?
Epaulettes plus air-eyeglasses,
Uniforms, with golden flashes.
Swooping low – to make close passes;
Banking, stalling – causing crashes


what?? who was flying the plane... Borat? lmao.

btw one of the things they drill into your head when you're learning to fly are the many positions of an airplane that cause a stall. you have to deliberately stall the plane in every single one of these "bad attitudes" so that you know how to recover from it. also, altitude is your friend.

the safest plane in the world won't save you from an incompentent hotdog pilot with flashy epaulets.
 _Cassiopea_
Joined: 11/29/2013
Msg: 9
How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 9:57:14 AM
The National Transportation Safety Board is tasked with crash analysis, reporting and recommendations.
Flying safety has improved so greatly over the last 110 years that the risk of any one person being in any crash is almost nil. Which begs the question of just when/what crash the OP is claiming. Most all commercial airline crashes are unsurvivable.

That is where the fear comes in, that makes some people choose not to fly at all, despite rationally knowing the negligible odds.

I wouldn't fly in most any helicopter, but I still fly occasionally in Boeing airliners despite watching one fall out of the sky on September 25th, 1978 with flames coming from its wing after a collision with a small plane.

One's level of fear is what matters, and rationally understanding the NTSB procedures which greatly reduce the chances of future airline accidents.
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 10
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How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 11:42:27 AM
Of COURSE air travel is not as safe as it could be. But then, nothing is as safe as it could be.

The biggest danger I've seen lately to air safety, is Cheapskate, Low Quality Business Majors coming to be in charge of Airlines (no offense intended to the Business majors who got a REAL and complete quality education) . People who only look at the immediate profit margins are the bane of safety. That's what caused the infamous ValueJet crash where low-bid packagers put volatile reprocessed cargo into a plane run by an airline that skimped on maintenance and safety, and murdered everyone on board.

That's why I virulently oppose deregulation of the Airlines.

I personally have to take anti-panic drugs every time I have to fly. Not the pilots fault, nor is it a result of rational thought on my part. I did have one minor negative experience in a plane once, but it only fell a few thousand feet in an air pocket. Terrifying, but no more so than the many more near fatal accidents I've avoided.

My only gripe with airline statistics, is that they are rarely realistic, relative to my concerns. Set aside for the moment, the games the airlines play to pretend that they are "on time 95% of the time" (i.e. by calling it "on time" if they manage to taxi to a place in line on time, and then hold the passengers hostage for hours on the ground). My gripe is, I'd like to compare accident statistics differently. If you compare passenger-miles one-for-one, flying wins hands down. I wonder what the statistics would be if they instead compared chance of survival per crash, for example (I'd wager that deaths-per-crash is much higher in planes), or fatalities per expert pilot/driver. It's MUCH harder for truly incompetent pilots to get control of an aircraft, than it is for incompetent drivers to get on the highway.

Anyway, I do think the OP fails to reason logically or rationally in this, even though I too suffer from take-off-phobia.
 CynthiaSM
Joined: 2/24/2012
Msg: 11
How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 12:12:25 PM
I agree with Igor about profit margin vs maintenance and the danger of deregulation.

I used to fly a LOT - was a member of United's 100,000 mile club before age 18. Once upon a time I wanted to be a pilot (then reality set in - thank goodness). After too many really scary events I went through a phase where I had to take a sedative to fly and am still afraid although I don't need the drugs just to get on board.


I'd like to compare accident statistics differently. If you compare passenger-miles one-for-one, flying wins hands down. I wonder what the statistics would be if they instead compared chance of survival per crash, for example (I'd wager that deaths-per-crash is much higher in planes), or fatalities per expert pilot/driver. It's MUCH harder for truly incompetent pilots to get control of an aircraft, than it is for incompetent drivers to get on the highway.

I'd like to see crashes per maintenance dollar spent - although I acknowledge the assumptions for both planes and cars as to what constitutes a crash and what constitutes maintenance would likely make this metric meaningless.
How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 1:10:31 PM
RE: running out of gas at 30,000 feet... its happened at least 3 times and in all 3 cases the planes landed without any serious injury (2 with no injury at all)

Look up the "Gimli Glider" incident.
 Froksy
Joined: 11/24/2013
Msg: 13
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How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 1:51:06 PM
Some flaws are in our aeroplanes; and, others with the pilots. I shall address the former in some detail when I have the time. Meanwhile, let me say that there's little or no evidence of crashed flying saucers or even of downed witches, is there? Therefore, are aliens and witches the superior air crew, or is it that UFOs or broomsticks make for better aircraft than ours?


BEWITCHING GIRL

Broomstick jutting from the dress;
Hairstyle, in a mess.
Overtaking UFO's –
Flying nose-to-nose
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 14
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How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 1:59:22 PM
Oh, frosky, you're just a troublemaker faking a controversy to excuse sneaking in your little nursery rhymes, aren't you.

As long as we are being silly, let me add that I will NEVER want to travel by air.

I WILL travel by plane, though.
 Froksy
Joined: 11/24/2013
Msg: 15
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How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 2:30:20 PM
Passenger planes tend to be long, tail-heavy, inelegant and hardly affordable. And they are so flimsy that if one strays, even slightly, from the runway, it usually collapses or disintegrates. They seem to be conceived by those who dream of birds soaring gracefully (regardless that elegantly would be the appropriate modifier), despite that a plane is for cutting safely, etc through the air. They are so long in their original form that a monstrous tail-fin needs to be attached to stabilise or steer them; and, in the following extended version(s) it gets worse. The wings are so narrow (and narrower still if the non-bracing ailerons or flaps are discarded) that undue pressure is put on them to lift the overloaded thing. A sacrifice to fuel-efficiency renders them so narrow that the plane can stall if it's flown outside a tiny interval of airspeed, even if taken too fast. The plane will yaw about them too, as though they form a fulcrum. And the engines, presumably to make the plane less tail-heavy, are set so much ahead of the wing, that if one came off, the plane's centre-of-gravity would jump so far backwards that it would go into an uncontrollable stall. And sometimes the tail will break-off. Meanwhile, the aircrew, probably brainwashed by the designers, and ensconced behind their computers, have become practically convinced that flying such things is safe. Now take a look in YouTube to view the Airbus-380 landing – it's like a drunken thing
 flyguy51
Joined: 8/11/2005
Msg: 16
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How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 2:34:45 PM
This opens up a big can of worms. The problem with an issue like safety is that there is often a very big difference between how safe people feel and how safe they actually are. For example, accident stats would show that far too many people feel safe texting while driving. Laws have to be made to curb this dangerous practice.

Also, there is safety in terms of avoiding an accident, and safety in terms of surviving an accident. Commercial airlines have both to a very good extent, but one big way to increase the second would be to have rear facing seats. They cushion impact much better, but they have a few problems: they require stronger bracing into the floor, which adds a lot of weight. Also, people really don't like facing backwards.

Light aircraft are about as safe as cars, which are a lot more dangerous than the commercial airlines. The safest aircraft on earth is Air Force One. Getting elected president is the safest way to fly but not exactly feasible is it?

At the end of the day, everything is a compromise between safety and practicality.

PS Two airline incidents come to mind where jets glided to a safe landing: the aforementioned Gimli incident and also an Air Transat incident. Of course, the safest thing to do is not run out of fuel...
How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 4:38:16 PM
motown cowgirl, yer a pilot? Cool, got a question - you ever piloted a flying boat? (not floatplane)
 IgorFrankensteen
Joined: 6/29/2009
Msg: 18
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How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 1/7/2014 5:13:46 PM
By the way, Qantas IS pretty good, and has a better safety record than many, but it is NOT true that they've never had a plane crash. Just nothing fatal, recently.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2011/11/airline_safety_does_qantas_airlines_crash_free_record_make_it_th.html

Trouble is, they don't fly anywhere that I ever need to go.
How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 2/2/2014 8:40:59 AM
Guess motown's being stuck up...hehe...but, piloting flying boat's is quite different than conventional aircraft, and requires a different type of license. Well, and floatplanes too I guess. I personally find flying boats to be the most interesting of aircraft. Aside from something like a hang glider, but that's different.
 flyguy51
Joined: 8/11/2005
Msg: 20
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How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 2/2/2014 11:39:23 AM
^^^ There is really nothing different about actually flying a floatplane or flying boat. If you want to be picky, floatplanes have more stuff hanging out and are therefor draggier and slower in flight. But the real difference is in taxiing, taking off, and landing... and "parking"! There are no brakes, of course.

So, if you are good with boats and planes, you are a shoe in for floatplanes...
How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 2/2/2014 1:36:45 PM
Yea, floatplanes are different from flying boats in those ways. But both are different than conventional aircraft according to license, and skill. As you said, it's the taxing, landing, and parking. And also, for braking, water has a decent drag. Once you're in the water, the flying boat won't just keep coasting at speed for too long. And, versus a confined ground runway, often you have some room in water to make turns to spill off speed...you'll plan for room to do so when deciding where and how to land.

Anywho...if I were to ever purchase an aircraft, I'd get a flying boat. Hands down. These two are pretty. Don't make 'em like this anymore -

http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/ab/72/33/ab7233d5f18e0f1cafbc63264d8d88b3.jpg

http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/79/b5/3b/79b53bbe237dbc6d45069ec3301c12b2.jpg
 flyguy51
Joined: 8/11/2005
Msg: 22
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How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 2/2/2014 2:02:01 PM
I have never seen that first one before, and I know my airplanes. I tip my hat to you for digging it up. The second one is a PBY Catalina WWII patrol plane. I had an uncle who said it was his favorite airplane of all time. The Commemorative Air Force, a volunteer flying museum, still operates one that I know of. It is a very rare thing to have a multiengine sea rating in this day and age. I think fire bombers, particularly in Canada, are the only pilots left that can make a living flying them.

As for personally owned flying boats, here is a fine specimen:

https://www.google.com/#q=lake+renegade&biv=i%7C0%3Bd%7COiFnP1f7bEdnoM%3A

It is called the Lake Renegade. I have heard that it is a chick magnet as far as affordable airplanes go.
How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 2/2/2014 2:38:14 PM
(Apologies if I or we are hijacking the thread, or being too off-topic)

I can't like things like that renegade much. Too small, and too "modern" looking. Don't like the look. Those from the '30's are attractive to me. And I like something the size of what I posted, but not as big as the china clipper flying boat, which otherwise was a nice ship.

The other one I posted is a S-43, Sikorsky.

I'd love flying boats, of a certain size class, for various purposes. You're not confined to existing airports and their runways. Anywhere there's water...as long as there's enough of it, no hazards, good weather, and local permission, you can land. This happens to open up to you places that are away from civilization, versus airports being in cities. So what I'd love one for is to just perpetually "camp" for weeks at a time in all of the wilderness locations of the world. And some of these things from the '30's still have/had ranges around 2,000 miles. Mmmm...

Flying boats existed for decades before, but as you probably know the '30's was the golden age of flying boats. Initially they existed because runways didn't really exist or weren't developed much yet, but there was water everywhere. But things changed in that respect, so you don't see flying boats very much. Yes, in places like Canada they're used for fires too, which is appropriate of course.

About the time that WW2 came around, flying boats were developed pretty well, and they naturally began serving as patrol, bomb, and transport. As you said, the Catalina was a very dependable tried-and-true design, which ended up having many variations. The Japanese had their Kawanishi H6K, among a few others, but that's the one I think is "alright". That one's too big though for me also...and I don't think that there's a single one of those that exists anywhere anymore. I don't like Germany's Dorniers much either. They're just kinda ugly to me also.
 wvwaterfall
Joined: 1/17/2007
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How Risky Is Air-Travel?
Posted: 2/2/2014 6:12:57 PM
So back on topic, of sorts....

The helicopter pilots I've flown with always raise the point that given an engine failure they can autorotate down just about anywhere, and don't have to look for something resembling a runway. To all you fixed wing affiandos, what say you to that as a safety factor?
 flyguy51
Joined: 8/11/2005
Msg: 25
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Posted: 2/2/2014 7:23:42 PM
^^^ That is true. There was at least one year back in the late 80's when the Bell Jetranger was the safest single engine aircraft in the US. However, part of that was due to the fact that it, like almost all helicopters in its class and above, uses a turbine engine which is even more reliable than piston aircraft engines.

But helicopters tend to be ideal for tasks that are inherently dangerous, which is the largest reason for their reputation as being more dangerous than airplanes. They operate low a lot more often. That is why you will see big red balls put on cables and power lines-- so that helicopter pilots will see them. Certain tasks that require a lot of hovering, such as logging, are very dangerous because autorotating out of a hover is dubious at best. Also, helicopter medivacs are risky because they really don't get to choose the safest times (night, fog) and places to fly when an accident victim's life is on the line.
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