Ms Rotterdam in the Norwegian fjords.
How to survive a plane crash
Even if you aren’t the type of masochist who watches crazy plane crash programs, at some point the idea of a crash has crossed your mind. But panic not, we have a soothing (and helpful) guide to navigate you through any worries or fears of flying. From telling you about the safest seat, to what actual causes a crash, you’ll have all the facts to hand.
How safe is flying?
Flying is by far the safest form of travel. The most recent statistics show that when you board a flight there is around a 1 in 10 million chance that your plane will be involved in a fatal accident (where at least one person dies). It is far more likely that you will be involved in a serious accident as you drive or take a taxi to the airport.
Are some airlines safer than others?
Without a doubt some airlines have better safety records than others and your odds of being in a crash depend a lot on who you fly with. As Stuart Lodge from Round the World Flights explains: "When your time’s up, it's up; but slipping off this mortal coil due to the fact you avoided reason whilst booking your trip, and chose an airline that has been banned in the EU because of safety, does seem rather short-sighted, to say the least.” The latest list of naughty airlines is here.
What causes most air crashes?
Air crashes are occasionally caused by bad weather, mechanical problems or hijacking, but one is far more likely than the rest: 50% of all air accidents are caused by pilot error.
Thankfully a rigorous training process means that there aren’t many situations that a professional pilot will face in the air that he hasn’t safely negotiated in a simulator.
When is a plane most likely to crash?
The majority of crashes happen at take-off, during the initial climb, on the final approach or on landing. It’s no coincidence that these are the times we are asked to keep our seatbelts fastened and stow away our heavy items.
If you’re sitting in an aisle seat consider storing your laptop or camera bags under the seat in front and not in the overhead bin. In the event of a rough landing, the bins can burst open and if you’re sitting directly below it’ll be your head that gets whacked.
What if I’m on that 1 in 10 million flight?
If you’re unlucky enough to be on a plane that crashes there’s still a chance you’ll make it out alive. In all air accidents involving at least one fatality in the last 30 years, around one in three passengers have survived.
Where should I sit to give myself the best chance of survival?
Airline manufacturers officially tell us that all seats are equally safe, but others disagree and statistics suggest that sitting towards the back of the plane may be safer in a crash. It stands to reason that you want to be furthest from the point of impact and planes rarely reverse into a mountain.
Alex, who has flown on many high-risk military flights into Afghanistan suggests another approach: “The best place to sit is near the black box; they always find them quickly.” Most flights have two black boxes (which are bright orange), but trying to ask the check-in staff about their location might prove difficult.
Won’t I be alright if I just adopt the brace position?
While the safety demonstrations show us how to adopt the brace position most experts agree that it’s unlikely to make any difference to your chances of survival.
What should I wear?
Loose cotton clothing, as well as being more comfortable in most situations, will protect you in the event of a fire. Nylon and synthetics should be avoided as they will melt quickly in the heat of a fire.
What about lifejackets – do they actually make a difference?
When used correctly, lifejackets definitely help survivors keep afloat until rescue services arrive. Be warned though; you should never inflate your lifejacket until you leave the aircraft. If you are wearing an inflated lifejacket when the aircraft fills with water you will bob up and down like a cork, unable to swim through the submerged exit doors.
For reassurance look no further than frequent flyer and multiple top-tier airline loyalty card holder Gary Arndt. He tells us: “There are almost 100,000 commercial flights per day. The odds of something happening are literally less than 1 in a million. Just knowing that is the most important thing.”
Have a safe flight!
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No amount of safety record will convince phobias like me. I have refused to leave this country for a long while due to fear of flying. Especially when climbing/take off; or flying through those turbulent weathers. My wife has gone as far as suggesting I may have died in a plane crash in my past life?! Who knows.
The fact is pple like me will take some convincing to believe anything here.I down as much sleeping tabletss on the odd chance of flying out and wish the plane will just take off and land without that climb where I lose sight of ground and no longer grounded. I lose contact with earth and its a traumatising feeling. I just want to fall into deep sleep and never be woken by those attendants until arrival.
I love flying and have flown a lot so its almost second nature to me but I do sympathise with those of you who are afraid of flying (or indeed crashing).
My advice is simple, get on a plane, conquer your fear and enjoy this amazing form of travel.
I hate boats (I am a strong swimmer) but the thought of sinking on a boat and drowning fills me with the heebie-jeebies but I have confronted this fear, been on several boats (including cross-channel ferries) and even though I still would rather fly, I wouldnt rule out sailing.
Its all about your mental attitude, dont live in fear....or you really wont live at all.
I always ask for a window seat, either before or aft of the main spar-which is where the wings join to the main fuselage, (surely the strongest bit) I enjoy the 'rush' of takeoffs and the landings and watch the undercarriage retracting or deploying, plus the Flaps-and the Clamshell 'Buckets' for reverse thrust of the Jet engines on landing. Once "In the Climb" there's no takeoff problem or emergency-you'd soon know about That! and in ''Cruise' no problem either; You've got 37-9,000 ft to spare and after all, it's only the last 2" that hurt. So enjoy the Trolley-Dollies and the in-flight meals and films; Sleeeep!
You've got Infinitely far more chance of getting "Dedded" on our Roads.(Pilots don't like dying either,
and after all; THEY are the first people to face it)
Bottom line - your drive, coach ride or train journey (whatever has been posted below trains are not safer than flying and ferries are downright lethal by comparison) to the airport is way more dangerous than the actual flight. In fact travelling on an escalator or climbing stairs in the terminal is more likely to get you hurt.
Chris Chris, I too had a problem with flying and the cure is to learn to fly a light aircraft. The first few hours are pretty terrifying but once you get past that everything slots into place. Even taking a 30 minute trial lesson or just a bit of ground school might help.
I have now flown on some of the most down-market (I'm talking planes repaired with duct tape flying over mountains!) airlines on this planet without problems. By best memory is Aeroflot coming out of Heathrow when the whole galley bulkhead I was seated behind started to move backwards during takeoff.
But I still take sensible precautions. As the article says wear cotton clothing, sit near the rear and try to get an exit seat. If you can't get an exit seat get an aisle seat but check out the size of your fellow passengers because if you have to get out in a hurry you want to be moving in the opposite direction from any 20+ stone lardarses. I just came off a transatlantic flight where one of the female passengers was so fat she had trouble moving along a standard-width BA aisle, how she got the toilet door closed is beyond me.
One tip - If you get an exit seat and any of your fellow passenger(s) in the row clearly does not meet the mandatory physical or age requirements complain, and do it forcibly so the cabin crew moves them. I've never had to do it flying out of the UK but on two occasions in the USA selfish b**stards have lied just to get a bit more legroom. It wasn't picked up at the gate but I had them moved PDQ once on the plane because it was a breach of Federal Law for the airline to fly with them seated there.
The only real safety problem I have now is with a couple of budget airlines (and I think we all know who I mean) who run the seat pitch so tight you won't be able to get out in a hurry. They may have a good safety record now but first time either of them has an emergency it will turn into a disaster. What I have learned is that these airlines are actually no cheaper than the mainstream carriers, they just claim to be. So another safety tip might be to avoid budget carriers.