Air travel: Safe or dangerous?

John M.

Staff Writer

Every year, billions of people travel by airplanes. While airplanes may be quick and efficient in today’s globalized society, airplane crashes have become increasingly concerning in 2014. In 2014 there were 20 commercial and private airplane crashes, the most since 2005, according to a CNN report. With around 850 dead from major aviation accidents this past year, many people are concerned about the safety of air travel.

In 2014 the airline industry suffered many accidents that raised concern for air travel. On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared in route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China. Now, a year later, the aircraft remains missing, and all 239 passengers and crew members are presumed dead. Later in the year on July 17, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by pro-Russian rebels over Eastern Ukraine in route from Amsterdam, Netherlands. All 298 passengers and crew members died, making it the deadliest crash of 2014. Towards the end of the year on December 28, 2014, Air Asia Flight 8501 crashed in the Java Sea because of engine failure in route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore; all 162 people onboard died. After all these accidents, many people are concerned, and the question has arisen: “Is air travel safe?” Many aviation experts have investigated these wrecks, and their belief is that these wrecks are just bad luck or that they could have been prevented.

During the past year many accidents happened, and during the year the investigations of these accidents found many different causes.  The cause of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 remains unknown, as the airplane and its flight recorders, or black boxes, have not been found. Many rumors have come up about the cause: possible hijacking, terrorism, or communications break down. The cause of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is it was shot down by pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine; since the crash, most routes over Eastern Ukraine have been suspended because of the threats from pro-Russian rebels. Mr. Ryan McKendrick, chorus teacher, discussed government regulations, saying, “It isn’t our business to tell other countries what to do, but they can re-evaluate their own situations.” Trans Asia Flight 235 went down because of reported engine failure by the pilot. Most of these crashes concern American travelers, and people wonder if anything can be done to prevent airline crashes.

With the recent number of airplane crashes, many are scared to fly because of the threat of being in an airplane accident. Just recently on February 4, 2015, Trans Asia Flight 235 crashed in the Keelung River in route from Taipei, Taiwan, to the island of Kinmen, Taiwan. Around 35 people are dead, and this crash is still under investigation. Bad weather caused the crash of Air Asia Flight 8501; the Air Travel JM 2pilot asked to move above the clouds to avoid the bad weather, but the engine stalled, causing the plane to crash.  Junior Michael Papadimitriou said, “I think it depends on the airline. I trust Delta, but not some Asian airline.” According to aviation experts, air travel is safe and is safer than ever thanks to regulatory bodies. The U.S. National Transportation Security Board (NTSB) investigates airlines in the U.S., and if a crash does happen, they make recommendations based on their investigation findings to prevent future crashes. The U.S. also has the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates air travel to make it safe. Also, airlines in the U.S. have certain regulations for flying in bad weather, and sometimes airlines will not allow airplanes to take off if the weather is too bad.

Many European and wealthy nations also have airline investigation boards in order to prevent airline accidents and have strict regulations to ensure airline safety; however, many Asian nations, where most of the accidents occurred, do not have these safety boards. In America, planes are inspected before liftoff to make sure no issues come up with the aircraft. Mrs. Anita Dodd, health teacher and volleyball coach, said, “I believe it [air travel] is [safe]. I heard that more people die in car crashes per year than in one plane crash.” Also, statistics back up air travel’s safety record. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, an organization linked to the United Nations), in 2013 there was only 2.8 accidents per million departures. The odds are 11 million to one that someone will be in a plane crash compared to the odds of dying in a car crash, which are 18,000 to one. After looking at these statistics, it appears that air travel is safe, and that most airline incidents are simply a couple cases of bad luck.

In 2014 the airline industry suffered the most crashes since 2005, with significant causes leading to their crashes. Airline experts claim that air travel is safe because of U.S. and European regulations on air travel. In short, air travel is safe and will continue to be popular despite the risks, as air travel is the fastest and the most efficient way to travel in present day.

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