How safe is your plane?

It might come as a surprise, given what seems to be almost constant media coverage of airplane accidents and near misses, but last year (2016) was the second safest year in aviation history. It follows 2013, the safest year ever, according to the Aviation Safety Network. The statistics for 2016 indicate that for every 10,769,280 passengers who flew, one person died. Based on this figure alone, the odds of being involved in an airplane accident remain incredibly slim.

But if that doesn’t give you sufficient peace of mind about flying, maybe the following facts about airplane safety features will. Skyscanner Australia recently published an article outlining the various ways in which modern planes are designed to overcome the potential hazards posed by technological failures, the environment and human interference.

The first step in the line of defence against airplane accidents is the rigorous training required for commercial pilots. Pilots are trained to possess certain skills, including the ability to manage a lot of information at once, following routines and protocols, working in a team, and compartmentalising.

Planes contain a significant amount of technology engineered to maximise performance and minimise risk. Redundant aircraft systems ensure that there is at least one back up for that function (sometimes, two), should the primary mechanism stop working or fail. An example of this is an alternate air intake or a separate GPS.

Another factor that helps to prevent technological failure in modern aircrafts is the transition from a machine-based cockpit to a computer-based operating system. This change reduces human error and enhances flight precision, as the pilot and computer operate the plane simultaneously, as opposed to the pilot having complete control over a machine.

Before a plane even takes off from a runaway, you can rest assured that the design of everything on-board – externally and internally – has been thoroughly tested by engineers. Flight simulators do not only help to train pilots, they also provide engineers with a way to comprehensively assess aircraft technology.

Also before take-off, both the pilot and maintenance crew run a gamut of pre-flight tests to ensure that the plane is safe to fly. Airplanes are checked at least daily by maintenance, and collaboration between ground crew, airlines and meteorological bodies means that in severe weather conditions, extra precautions are taken, with planes sometimes being grounded.

Should something occur mid-flight, there are both technology and airline safety protocols in place to prevent a crisis. In the past few years alone, changes, such as cockpit doors locking to prevent a hijacking, have come in to place to protect passengers and airline crew.

The above information really only skims the surface regarding the safety features of airplanes, but it still highlights just how many ways in which the technology of flying is engineered to succeed. Flying remains safer than any other form of travel according to many sources, including this article; with fatal accidents among airplanes only occurring once in every 2 million flights.

Written by Lucy

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