How safe is flying? Statistically, the chance of your jet flight crashing disastrously is one in 4.4 million. That’s according to IATA chief Tony Tyler, who revealed the figure last week at IATA’s 71st annual general meeting in Miami.
Those are steep odds, though not nearly as steep as the odds of winning Australia’s Oz Lotto outright. The odds on taking Division 1 with seven winning numbers from playing just one game are one in 45,379,620.
“In contrast, paradoxically so, aviation safety has been a constant in recent headlines. That was largely driven by three extraordinary events – MH 370, MH 17 and Germanwings 9525,” IATA’s director general and chief executive said.
“Every loss is a tragedy. I know that you join me in remembering all who have perished in aviation tragedies and their families and friends. The greatest tribute that we can pay to them is to make flying ever safer. That is precisely what we are doing.”
Tyler then went on to outline specific measures being taken to avoid such catastrophic events in future.
“In light of tracking gaps exposed by MH 370, a 15-minute position reporting standard is being developed through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). And in the near future, emerging technology and proposed new practices will move us closer to ensuring that never again will an aircraft simply disappear.
“MH 17 was an outrage. Civilian aircraft are instruments of peace. They must never be targets for weapons of war. Governments are working together through ICAO to enhance the sharing of security information. And we will not be satisfied until governments agree to a global convention to control the design, manufacture, sale, and deployment of weapons with anti-aircraft capability.
“Germanwings 9525 was a deliberate and horrible act by one of our own. Day-in and day-out, safety is the focus of aviation professionals. But there is no immunity to mental health issues. The investigation conclusions will help airlines and regulators to look again at the balance needed to monitor mental health in an environment that is aligned with the Just Culture that drives safety forward.”
Tyler said the reporting of the three tragedies had “challenged some traditional protocols”.
“In the age of social media information is ubiquitous and unbridled. That is re-calibrating expectations within the industry, among regulators and the general public. We must participate in this new dialogue. But we must not allow it to replace or undermine well-established accident investigation standards which lead to findings that improve safety.
“We will always rise to the challenges that accidents present. And we will do so in alignment with strategies and methodologies that have proved themselves over many years by making flying the safest form of long-distance travel.”
Incidentally, the makers of an app called “Am I Going Down?” released last year said the odds of a jet aircraft crashing ranged about one in nine million to about one in two million, depending on routes and other factors.
According to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, the app put the odds of crashing while flying between Hong Kong and Los Angeles with Cathay Pacific in a B777 at one in 4,068,434, while flying American Airlines between San Francisco and London Heathrow in an A330 comes in at one in 2,783,874.
Users of the new app can select airline and aircraft types. Safety records, departure and destination points all come into it. The app also includes the number of years since an airline’s last fatal accident.
In truth, the only thing an app can really tell you is that the chance of any plane crashing is infinitesimally small.
Written by Peter Needham