Flying Safety: The Facts About Airplane Crashes

The idea of an airplane crash can be terrifying for nervous flyers. If you’re a catastrophizer, you might have looked up all the plane crashes in recent history and convinced yourself there’s a good chance of it happening to you. However, that isn’t the case.

Airplanes crash incredibly infrequently, and these numbers have only decreased sharply as time goes on. In 2019, 477 people died in plane crashes worldwide, while nearly three million people fly in and out of the US daily. Plane travel remains the safest mode of transport available.

Whether you’ve seen too many disaster films or suffer from irrational anxieties, your fear of flying is wholly justified. The rest of this article will detail everything you need to know to put your mind at ease.

How Often Do Airplanes Crash?

Airplane crashes are very infrequent, and you’re not likely to experience one in your lifetime. However, despite the reassuring statistics, this fact doesn’t stop people from being incredibly nervous on planes or having a fear of flying.

Why Am I So Afraid of Flying?

A fear of flying is one of the most universally recognized fears — you’ll rarely be looked at funny for not wanting to fly. The biggest reason for this is plane crashes’ deadly and gruesome nature. 

While you’re far less likely to get into a plane crash than a road accident, most would agree they would rather be in a car crash than a plane crash. To many, the unlikely nature of a plane crash is no consolation for the reality of an airline disaster. So, why are you so afraid of flying?

You’re likely so afraid of flying because of the potential of a plane crash. Despite the possibility of a plane crash being so low, the idea that it could happen causes fear. However, you could also be afraid of flying due to claustrophobia, a fear of being trapped, or a fear of turbulence.

There’s a recognized term for fear of flying. It’s called aerophobia and affects more than 25 million Americans, so don’t worry; you’re not alone.

There are plenty of options available if you have this phobia. As a recognized anxiety disorder, you’ll be able to receive talking therapies and courses of medication to help with your fear of flying, depending on the severity. 

However, these may not be necessary if your anxiety is more rational. A quick dive into the facts surrounding plane crashes could be enough to put your mind at ease.

Can Turbulence Cause a Plane To Crash?

Turbulence can’t cause a plane to crash. If an aircraft were to crash after experiencing turbulence, it’s likely that the cause of the crash also caused the turbulence. However, this scenario is extremely rare.

Turbulence can feel scary, especially to an infrequent flyer, but the truth is the pilot has everything under control. Turbulence can be caused by anything from a change in air pressure to some difficulty with the weather

In the most severe cases, turbulence can be caused by a mechanical fault or human error, but the pilot, in the vast majority of cases, will quickly rectify this. Air is not a still and unchanging medium, so planes won’t always flow smoothly through it. 

A great way to cope with a fear of turbulence is to imagine you’re on a boat. The ship moves up and down with the waves, but you know you’re safe as long as you move with the water. Planes are the same. If the plane starts moving around, it’s just following the easiest path.

Why Is Flying So Safe?

If you have a rational fear of flying, you might need some reassurance about air travel safety to put your mind at ease. There are several helpful facts about airline crashes that should make you feel much better about your impending departure.

Flying is so safe because it has the lowest death rates of any mode of transportation. Additionally, most plane crashes don’t occur on commercial flights, and if they do, it typically takes place on the runway, which doesn’t result in many (if any) injuries.

Let’s go over some of these helpful facts about the safety of air travel.

Airplane Travel Is by Far the Safest Mode of Transportation

This isn’t a myth or lie they tell to get you on a plane. To put it in the simplest terms, more people will die in a car accident in the US this year alone than in airplane crashes worldwide since 1982. You’re far more likely to be on a derailed train or sinking ship than in an airline disaster.

Walking is actually more dangerous than airline travel. Would you hesitate to step out your front door in the morning in case a car mounted the pavement and knocked you down? Well, statistically, you would be more justified in worrying about that than a plane crash. Therefore, you have nothing to worry about.

Most Plane Crashes Don’t Occur on Commercial Flights

The statistics for plane crashes aren’t what they seem. You would be forgiven for looking at the hundreds of plane crashes that seemingly happen yearly and thinking that your Boeing 747 will likely go down. This isn’t the case. 

The statistics account for all sorts of flights. Hundreds of small private planes take off around the world every day. Occasionally these will go down but rarely prove to be fatal

Of the 640 crashes in 2019, only 86 involved large commercial planes, and only eight were fatal. Almost all reported plane crashes are small aircraft in a controlled setting, and everyone is okay.

Most Plane Crashes Take Place on the Runway

This fact will provide more comfort to some than others, but the truth is that most commercial airline crashes happen on take-off or landing. You’d be forgiven for thinking you had no chance if your plane dropped out of the sky at 50,000 feet (15,240 meters), but the reality is far less dire. 

Many plane crashes involve a controlled landing where the plane takes a hit, but the passengers are okay.

Airports are well prepared for these eventualities. With some of the busiest airports in the world having up to eight runways, skilled air traffic control teams are on hand and ready for any potential emergencies.

Final Thoughts

Airplane crashes are one of the rarest things that can happen to a person. The prospect of a crash may seem scary, but it’s very unlikely to occur on your trip. It’s easier said than done, but it’s best to try and enjoy your flight without the fear of a crash. 

You shouldn’t let your fear of flying stop you from exploring the world.