By Staff Writer Greg Estabrooks.
This past week, one of the deadliest commercial plane crashes in years occurred when Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea off of the coast of Indonesia, killing all 189 on board.
Just minutes into their flight to Pangkal Pinang, the flight crew asked for permission to turn back towards the Indonesian capital of Jakarta after experiencing some unknown difficulties.
Contact was lost a short time later, and the Boeing 737 Max 8 plunged into the sea.
A team of divers has so far recovered one of the black boxes on board the flight, and they are in the process of locating the second, which is currently sending out “pings” from the bottom of the ocean floor.
Indonesia has an extremely patchy aviation safety record, and their airlines have been involved in a number of serious accidents.
It is unclear yet whether it was human error or a technical issue that caused the crash, but experts should be able to determine this after analyzing the black box data.
I don’t know about you all, but I am rather uneasy about getting on airplanes.
Something about the fact that everything that happens up there, thousands of feet in the air, is completely out of my control does not sit well with me.
If given the option, I would much rather spend an extra few hours in the car than get on one of those flying hunks of jet-powered metal.
And of course, I recognize the data which says that flying is much safer than driving a car, and that you are much more likely to die in a car accident than to die in a plane crash.
According to the National Safety Council, the odds of dying in a car crash at some point in your lifetime are about 1 in 98.
Comparatively, the odds of dying in a plane crash are much slimmer, at 1 in 7,178.
Although the odds of getting in a plane crash are so miniscule, we often perceive it as so dangerous because if something goes wrong while the plane is in the air, the results are not likely going to be good, and loss of life becomes a high-probability.
When something goes wrong while you are driving a car, say, you blow a tire, you can pull over and address the problem safely and go on your merry way.
When something technically goes astray while flying, pilots are required to take over the controls and attempt to land the plane as best they can.
This is much easier said than done.
One major benefit of commercial air travel is the lack of any real traffic while in the air, as there is plenty of space to operate in and air traffic controllers normally do a tremendous job of making sure that the aircrafts do not get too close to one another.
One the other hand, traffic and the congested conditions that motor vehicles operate in is a serious contributor to automobile accidents.
Albeit, a slight majority of deaths by automobile accident occur in single-operator situations, and a great majority of these deaths involve drunk driving, which can be avoided and is in the realm of control of the operator.
Perhaps our fears of flying are unfounded, and are based in psychological manifestations of worst-case scenarios.
Technology and the increased automotive ability of airplanes has made them safer, and has helped to lessen the likelihood of crashes via human error.
Whatever the case, I would rather have my life in my own hands, and be able to possess as much control over it as possible.
To this end, I choose to keep my feet on the ground unless absolutely necessary.