Turns out fear of flying has a name, aviophobia, and affects up to 1 in 20 people in the country. Given that the average commercial flight carries no less than 39 passengers, one could expect about two passengers per flight to be experiencing crippling anxiety while in the air. The role of a commercial pilot is not simply to fly the plane from point A to point B, but also to make sure the passengers are as safe and comfortable as possible.
No Need to Fear
When it comes to the fear of flight, some common myths often feed the fire— but most of them are not at all true. Understanding how safe flying really is can certainly ease some of the stress. Also, knowing what makes people scared can help flight crews provide a better experience for their passengers. Today, the flight instructors and aviation experts at FLT Academy are here to debunk some troublesome flying myths.
1. Turbulence Means Danger
While rough air can rattle the bodies and nerves of some, it is still only rough air. When a pilot understands weather, weather systems, and weather products they are better prepared to find “smooth air”. Planes are able to withstand drastic rises and drops of over 30 meters— turbulence that would be tossing untethered objects from one side of the aircraft to another. Even if encountered, the odds of a crash in such conditions are still extremely low. Modern planes are capable of flying through hurricanes without much issue, though this is reserved for only the most skilled pilots in non-passenger carrying flights. At the end of the day, turbulence-related problems haven’t been the cause of a commercial crash in over 40 years.
2. Planes Fly on Autopilot
We are all aware of the notion that “planes fly themselves,” but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Piloting an aircraft is very organic, requiring attention and critical decision-making on the parts of the pilot(s) and crew. Although technology has advanced rapidly over the years, flying is still very much a human task. Many are familiar with terms like “auto-pilot” and “auto-land” but in reality, these things don’t altogether remove the pilot from the equation. The auto-pilot capabilities are designed to manage an aircraft in flight, based upon the inputs set by the pilot(s), and auto-land is a function used in poor weather which accounts for less than one percent of flights.
3. Jet Engine Failure Means Catastrophe
The care and design put into an aircraft provide for a number of fail-safes and redundant systems. It can be a frightening thought to experience an engine failure in flight, but it won’t bring the plane to the ground. Large multi-engine aircraft are designed and required to possess enough power to fly just fine with one engine. Even if both engines fail, the aircraft is still able to glide for a significant distance, enabling it to perform an emergency landing in many cases. Each and every pilot certified to operate a multi-engine aircraft has received extensive training on how to fly a plane if an engine fails.
4. Lightning Strikes Can Take Down the Plane
It’s estimated that a plane is likely to be struck by lightning once every 1000 flight hours making it a fairly common occurrence— nearly once a year per aircraft. Airplanes are excellent conductors of electricity on the outside, which helps the electricity pass through the plane safely without entering the cabin. Lightning has not caused a crash since 1963, and since then, considerable safety improvements have been made.
5. Plane Crashes Are Common
Between 2012 and 2016, there was a 1 in 3.37 billion chance of dying in a commercial airline plane crash. The lifetime odds of dying in a car accident are 1 in 107, making death by plane crash far less likely than any other major mode of transportation. In short, airplane travel is incredibly safe.
A pilot will receive many questions regarding the safety of flight, and a truthful, confident answer could put many anxious minds at ease. As one of the top flight schools in the country, we have flown a few planes and can safely say, there’s no need to fear! The myths aren’t true. We also put a huge emphasis on safety while training our students, making flights all the safer. For more information on our flight academy, such as how to obtain a private, instrument, or commercial rating, please contact us today.