Pilots & Aircraft

Is Flying Safer Than Driving? – Why You Should Not Worry!

aircraft overrun runway

A lot of people are afraid of traveling by plane. Aerophobia is “The fear of flying,” which is a common concern for people. The news media make this worse by covering every accident or incident intensively.

The fact is that flying on a plane is much safer than you think. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), they were only 3.02 accidents per million departures of commercial flights! Bear in mind, accidents do not mean occupants on board died.

The Association For Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) states that “on average 3,700 people lose their lives every day on the roads“! This is nowhere near the deaths in aviation, yet people are more afraid of flying than driving.

The aviation industry has learned a lot in the past about air travel. Here are a few reasons why flying in an aircraft is safer than going out on a drive.

Training

cockpit of Cessna

How long did it take you to receive your diver’s license? How long was the “training”? Just know that it is nowhere where close to what pilots have to go through. Different licenses have their criteria to be obtained.

It takes airline pilots years of training, studying, and experiences to get to where they are! In the United States, most pilots would need 1500 minimum flight hours to fly for a regional airline! How many driving hours did it take you to get your license?

After pilots obtain their licenses, training does not just stop right there. Flight reviews and flight currencies must be done to ensure pilots are still proficient in flying with no problems. More skill and more significant examination are required when you are in command of an aircraft. Because aviation safety plays a huge role in the industry, pilots are guaranteed they receive proper training.

Air Traffic Controller

ATC tower

You likely do not have someone watching you while driving and making sure you are not in jeopardy. Air traffic controllers (ATC) are there to assist and ensure aircraft are not in danger. Radar and communicating with radios are what pilots and ATC use. It ensures aircraft collision does not occur, and pilots know where they are supposed to be at all times.

ATC can report weather conditions at different locations. Pilots can quickly know what to expect before they get to their destination. Both pilots and ATC also monitor terrain and obstacles. If an aircraft happens to fly too close to a mountain at a dangerous altitude, ATC can warn the pilots. This happens less nowadays because of the advancement within technology in aircraft today.

In case emergencies or problems happen in the air, ATC can call on emergency services for when the aircraft lands. If a car crash happens and emergency personnel is called, they will likely take minutes to reach the location. However, when a plane in distress requests emergency services, they will be ready to assist before landing.

Aviation Rules

They are a lot of rules that have been made and changed over the years to ensure the industry is safe. All airmen have to follow numerous regulations while flying. They are created mainly with safety as the number one priority in mind. Different scenarios have to be developed based on those aviation laws.

They are a lot of associations that host events and conferences which promote safety in the industry. The Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) is just one association that helps to inform the community about training and flight safety.

To ensure pilots complete all tasks correctly, they must use the checklist for all flights. All pilots use checklists when flying. It ensures pilots do not accidentally skip crucial steps and ensure everything is done as it should be. Having flows and using a list is heavily emphasized in the industry. Captains for a major airline were using a checklist since they were student pilots!

When it comes to maintaining and conducting repairs on aircraft, they are strict rules which owners and airlines have to abide by. Manufacturers and aviation authorities make these rules so that aircraft do not risk “breaking down” while flying. Penalties can be given if owners or operators do not follow these rules.

Sophisticated Aircraft

plane cockpit

Modern aircraft are built with safety in mind. They are so many systems that work together to keep the plane undamaged and occupants free from harm. Systems are more reliable, and back-ups are available for use at any time in case things go “south.” New and modern instruments can assist pilots with flying. If pilots can not find the runway, the autopilot and landing systems can help bring the plane down with no issues.

For example, if an aircraft is not set up for landing and it is close to the ground, the system will warn the pilots to configure the plane properly. Also, if a pilot forgot to put down flaps before take-off, audible warnings will be heard in the cockpit. Aircraft are programmed so they know how all the systems should operate during different phases of flight.

Aircraft manufacturers also take into consideration “worse case scenarios” to make their products safe and reliable. For example, it is required for aircraft to have a factor of safety of 1.5 of the ultimate aircraft load. The durable materials’ aircraft are made out of can withstand a lot of stress during normal operations.

Aircraft Are Safer!

In aviation, safety is the #1 priority. Technology has allowed human beings to design and create machines that are capable of soaring in the air at fast speeds. The complexity and lack of understanding as to how aircraft work and operate is what those afraid of flying struggle with.

They are not the ones who are seeing how everything works while sitting in their seat. Most times, the cockpit is inaccessible to passengers. If these passengers can see what pilots are doing, they will not understand what is going on. But because more people can see and understand how a motor vehicle work, then they do not worry as much.

If you do fear flying, remember driving in a car is much more dangerous and risky! Also, trust that the pilots will take you to your destination with no problems!

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6 thoughts on “Is Flying Safer Than Driving? – Why You Should Not Worry!

  1. Hi Brian, Great reading about almost all the reasons I don’t like to fly. I traveled quite a bit when I was younger, some of it by air and that was always the most stressful. I agree with you that airline travel is much safer than driving my car but at least in my car, I have control.
    I recently had a flight from Iowa to Alabama and got into a discussion about airline vs car travel with a gentleman who pointed out many of your examples. My daughter will soon be flying for the first time, I’ll pass this along to her, she is a little unsure about the experience!

  2. Hey,

    This is a really interesting and informative article. I don’t have a pilot’s licence or anything like that, but I am interested in planes. More so for their engineering, but it’s also great to learn how things tick in the aviation world and business. They do say that flying is a safer way to travel than driving, now I believe that after going though your articles.

    Thank you for sharing these interesting articles and keep up the great work.

    All the best,

    Tom

  3. Hi Brian
    I suppose its strange that I am surprised at how much training goes into flying, as lets be honest, not just anyone can fly a plane so it makes sense! I always wanted to be a pilot when I was younger but I was told it was not possible as I am colour blind with particular colours. I am not sure if thats still a true thing? Thanks for some great information

    1. Yes, you still can become a pilot if you are colorblind. It does depend on how bad your condition is, but if you pass medical exams and prove you can carry normal flight operations, you should be fine.

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