Air Travel Myths
Air travel safety
It turns out there are many misconceptions about the safety of airline travel, some of which airlines and air travel safety agencies are all too willing to propagate. An interesting article in the Economist (subscription required, but there is a free trial that you can sign up for) informs us that:
- rear-facing seats are more safe than front-facing ones on airplanes; the reason they're not used on commercial aircraft is that people don't like them
- really pay attention to where the emergency exits are--knowing where they are markedly increases your chance of survival in the event of a crash
- you should keep your seatbelt fastened at all times, since there's always a risk of deadly clear-air turbulence, which pilots can not anticipate
- no wide-bodied aircraft has ever made a successful landing on water, which makes the discussion of sliding down inflatable chutes that turn into rafts more or less irrelevant
- mobile phones do not interfere with navigation systems
- flight attendants happily ply passengers with moderate amounts of alcohol to keep them quiet
- the flight staff can even modify air quality to make passengers drowsy
- ever hear the pilot tell the flight attendants "doors to automatic and cross-check"? he's telling them to check and double-check that the doors have been closed.
Reading this made me feel a little like a kid told that there is no Tooth Fairy...
Note: These are "quotes" from an imaginary airline pilot, not actual quotes from an existing flight.
- [if safety were our first priority] our seats would be rear-facing, like those in military aircraft, since they are safer in the event of an emergency landing. But then hardly anybody would buy our tickets and we would go bust.
- knowing in advance where the exits are makes a dramatic difference to your chances of survival if we have to evacuate the aircraft.
- keep your seat belt fastened when seated, even if the seat-belt light is not illuminated. This is to protect you from the risk of clear-air turbulence, a rare but extremely nasty form of disturbance that can cause severe injury.
- in the history of aviation the number of wide-bodied aircraft that have made successful landings on water is zero.
- the real reason to switch [mobile phones] off is because they interfere with mobile networks on the ground
- the purpose of these refreshments is partly to keep you in your seats where you cannot do yourselves or anyone else any harm. Please consume alcohol in moderate quantities so that you become mildly sedated but not rowdy.
- We can always turn the cabin air-quality down a notch or two to help ensure that you are sufficiently drowsy.
- Cabin crew, please make sure we have remembered to close the doors. Sorry, I mean: ‘Doors to automatic and cross-check'.