2009: The year people got spooked about flying?

us air

It’s been a rough first half of the year for the aviation industry.

And the hits keep coming, too.

Today, we learned of two more incidents. A Yemenia Airlines flight trying to land on the island nation of Comoros went down in the Indian Ocean during rough weather. It is believed that all of the passengers were killed, except for a 5-year-old boy who appears to have been miraculously rescued. The incident is somewhat reminiscent of the Air France flight that went down in bad weather over the Atlantic, killing all of the passengers aboard the plane.

The Yemenia Airlines flight probably won’t get as much press as the Air France flight because of the location of the plane, and the fact that there weren’t any American or British nationals aboard. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t an important news item to look at in the larger context of aviation safety. Not to mention, it was another AIRBUS plane that went down in water, the same company who built the Air France plane.

Then, news broke of a plane bound for New York’s  LaGuardia Airport from Miami, that, while landing, suffered a bird strike on the plane’s landing gear. Fortunately, the plane landed without incident. Of course, this immediately brings to mind the U.S. Air flight that landed safely in the Hudson River after suffering bird strikes to both engines. New York City has attempted to round up geese in the area and gas them in an attempt to control the population and prevent these strikes from occurring.

Animal lovers, everywhere, altogether now: cringe.

While there have been a number of plane crashes around the world this year, aviation experts say flying is as safe as it has ever been. Statistically, the chances of being in a plane crash are miniscule, and we all know that driving a car is much more dangerous (after totaling my car a month ago, I can attest to this).

But, aside from the bird strike incidents in which nobody was hurt, the only deadly crash in the U.S. was the Colgan Air flight that crashed near Buffalo. This set off a storm of Congressional hearings and questions about the safety of regional airlines, but nothing has come from it yet. Most likely, ths will remain the case until a major domestic carrier has a catostrophic accident. It took 9/11 for airport security to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Will it take something similar for pilots to be compensated fairly and given the benefits they deserve for such a stressful job?

Most likely, the recent string of crashes won’t prevent Americans from getting on planes. But what would it take for you to stop flying? Leave your answers in the comments section. If they are any good, I’ll post and respond to them.


One response to “2009: The year people got spooked about flying?

  1. Recent failures to keep passengers safe won’t hinder people from trusting an airplane any more than they already do. Fear of flying comes from a lack of control. Essentially people put their fate in the hands of professionals who, are also, complete strangers. If something goes wrong, they just have to sit back and hope for the best. The people who have a problem with this probably don’t fly in the first place. Rational passengers will not be frightened by the recent increase in accidents, instead they will accept this statistical phenomenon as a tragedy and not an indicator of the future. I don’t have the numbers, but I am sure that flying from LA to NY, for example, is still significantly safer than making the cross-country drive.

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