Airplane disasters have always been a scary thought for any flyer and in the early days of Air travel warranted extra caution. The recent missing Malaysian Airline Flight MH 370 has garnered close attention across the world with media speculation, conspiracy theories and military might on display in trying to locate the missing airline.
Over the years however air travel has become incredibly safe and the technology ensuring safety highly sophisticated leading to incredible improvements in air safety records.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) confirmed that in 2013 alone some 3.1 billion passengers took to the air for work or tourism worldwide. Considering the increased worldwide interconnectedness and the ever increasing mobility for work and pleasure air passenger rates continue to increase year on year.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report on fatalities for various sectors highlights the increased safety levels in the air today and the figures published in 2012 are indicative of this massive improvement in reducing risk in the skies. Sector wise the numbers for 2012 are as below:
Disasters and impact on safety
Some of the major disasters over the history of flight have contributed to the improvements and changes that make flying as safe as it is today and things that we take for granted today all bear a history of disaster underlying change.
The 1956 mid-air collision between two airplanes, TWA Flight 2 and United Airlines Flight 718 was the first major air disaster where over 100 lives were lost. This led to improvements in Air Traffic Control (ATC) Safety mechanisms and the formation of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and added immensely to improving air safety both in the United States and worldwide.
A fire on board the Air Canada Flight 797 in 1983 led to the installation of smoke detectors in lavatories, automatic fire control systems, and fire insulation in addition to in flight emergency guidance lighting for passengers to exit the aircraft.
The Delta Air Lines Flight 191 crash led to the integration of forward looking radar and wind shear detectors in airplanes following the loss of 134 lives in this crash.
Each of these disasters therefore bore within themselves the seeds of improvements in air safety; the aviation industry and the FAA continues to analyse, dissect and study every disaster to improve air safety worldwide and make the skies safer for everyone.