Airtravel vs. Road use

10 June 2016 - By Eugene Herbert

It is a fact that
driving on a South African road is a dangerous activity and that many approach
the exercise with great trepidation – aside from Taxi drivers of course. 

It may be that some
have decided that they would prefer – in view of all the airline tragedies – to
drive instead of flying. Is it less or more safe? Deviating from our normal
discussions on road safety we are sharing some interesting information on the
safety of flying and hope that you will enjoy the read, courtesy Joe Cortez in
the States.

According to the
International Air Transport Association, an average of 102,700 commercial
flights departed every single day in 2015. While the majority of those made it
to their final destination without incident, a small number of flights never
arrived. In the wake of their disappearance comes a number of questions about
the safety of regularly-scheduled commercial aircraft.

When a flight comes
crashing to the ground, some travellers may react with fear and paranoia about
boarding their next aircraft. Without a complete knowledge of an aircraft’s
history, not knowing the pilots or their motives, and with the constant fear of
terrorism around the world, is it still safe to fly?

The good news for
travellers is that despite the dangers that come with flying, there are still
less fatalities per flying than other modes of transportation, including
driving. According to statistics collected by,
370 aircraft accidents took place around the world between 1999 and 2008,
accounting for 4,717 fatalities.

To better understand
where and how commercial aircraft incidents take place, consider all of the
commercial aircraft incidents around the world in recent history. The following
list breaks down all the fatal commercial aircraft incidents between February
2015 and May 2016, sorted alphabetically by region.

Africa: 330
aviation-related fatalities

Between February 2015
and May 2016, there were three fatal commercial aircraft crashes in or around
Africa. The most noteworthy of these was MetroJet Flight 9268, which came down
after a mid-air explosion on October 31, 2015. The flight was the only
confirmed act of terrorism against a commercial aircraft in 2015, killing all
224 aboard the aircraft.

Additional incidents
included an Allied Services Limited flight crashing in South Sudan, killing 40
people aboard the aircraft, and the recent Egyptair Flight 804 incident, with
all 66 people aboard presumed dead. The Egyptair incident is still under

Between all fatal
incidents in Africa, 330 people were killed in three accidents.

Asia (including the
Middle East): 143 aviation-related fatalities

Of all the areas
affected by commercial aircraft incidents, Asia has been most severely affected
by commercial aircraft accidents, Between February 2015 and May 2016, the
entire region suffered five aircraft accidents, more than anywhere else in the

The most noteworthy and
graphic incident was Transasia Flight 235, caught live on surveillance cameras
as the crash took place. A total of 43 people were killed when the ATR-72
crashed into the Keelung River in Taiwan. Other major incidents include Trigana
Flight 237, which killed 54 people aboard the aircraft, and Tara Air Flight
193, which killed all 23 aboard their aircraft when it went down in Nepal.

Between all five fatal
accidents in Asia, a total of 143 people were killed when their aircraft came

Europe: 212
aviation-related fatalities

Europe has seen more
than their share of aviation-related fatalities in the past two years. Excluding
the attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and the terrorist attacks on the
Brussels Airport, two commercial flights went down in Europe between February
2015 and May 2016.

Arguably, the most
tragic of these incidents was the Germanwings Flight 9525 incident, when an
Airbus A320 was deliberately brought down in the French Alps by the pilot. All
150 people aboard the flight were killed after the aircraft crashed. The flight
incident lead Europe to change many of their aviation safety protocols, including
mandating two people stay in the cockpit at all times. The other fatal incident
was the crash of FlyDubai Flight 981, when 62 people were killed when the
pilots attempted to abort a landing attempt at Rostov-on-Don Airport in Russia.

Between both fatal aviation
incidents, 212 people were killed in two aircraft accidents over the 16-month
time period.

North America: five
aviation-related fatalities

In North America, there
was only one commercial aircraft accident which resulted in fatalities.
However, there were several more incidents that did not result in fatalities.

The only commercial
airline incident which resulted in fatalities took place in Mexico, when an
Aeronaves TSM test flight broke up shortly after take-off. Three passengers and
two pilots were killed as a result of the incident.

Across North America,
there were three additional aviation accidents in 2015 that resulted in some
injuries, but no fatalities. Delta Air Lines Flight 1086 ultimately collided
with a seawall after skidding off a runway during landing in March 2015,
resulting in 23 injuries. Later in the same month, Air Canada Flight 624 landed
short of the runway, also injuring 23 people aboard the aircraft. Finally,
British Airways Flight 2276 encountered 14 injuries, after the passengers
evacuated their Boeing 777-200ER aircraft due to an engine fire on takeoff.

Well – maybe we feel a
little safer driving, but still apprehensive about sharing our roads with other
road users? If so, do something about it because, even if other drivers are
incompetent, stupid, mad (choose an adjective you prefer) you can still make a
difference. If you don’t know feel free to call me.

Till next time – fly

Eugene Herbert

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