We’ve all heard before that commercial airliners are the safest mode of transport in the world. It’s something that’s often told to people just before going on to the plane to help make them feel safer while they’re thousands of metres up in the air. But there is a lot of truth to the notion, so much so that many experts believe that driving to the airport is the most dangerous part of the entire journey.
But is flying as safe as they say, or have the airline companies successfully campaigned aircraft safety all these years? Here we will look at the facts and the stats and determine just how safe commercial flying really is.
Flight Systems Protection
Commercial airliners are exposed to a number of external stressors over the course of a flight, including changes in pressure, environmental hazards, lightning, electromagnetism, extremely high winds, and many others. This is why engineers have made sure to protect the critical flight systems as much as possible from all potential hazards, including lightning strikes – which tend to happen a lot more than people realise.
Much of the protections of these systems, such as the shielding on important circuit boards and wiring, are regularly tested by maintenance workers to double check that everything is working as it’s meant to. What it ultimately means for the passengers is that if something were to go wrong and the plane was affected, it would remain safely in the air.
Air Traffic Control
Before we take a look at the overall safety of the planes themselves, it’s important to first appreciate just how far air traffic control technology has come. There was a time where accidents occurred more frequently due to the high pressures and stress put on air traffic control staff, but thanks to modern technologies, much of the stresses have been lessened. It also means that those sitting in the control tower have access to much greater fields of information, and it’s made it easier for control agents to keep in touch with one another.
GPS technologies have also had a profound impact on the safety and efficiency of air traffic control systems, along with advanced computer programs that are able to map out navigational routes in seconds – in fact, things have become so highly-automated that you could forgive an agent sneaking off to have a few rounds of their favourite Australian online pokies. Combine these together and you have linked systems designed from the ground up to ensure that no two planes ever collide, even on the screen.
Improved Pilot Protocols
While relatively recent compared to other safety measures, there’s been a lot more emphasis on better protocols for pilots. This means that along with the mechanical safety features in place, the human element also provides a strong element of protection in the case of an accident. A number of rules and protocols are in place that all commercial pilots need to adhere to in order to ensure the safety of their passengers, the plane, as well as themselves.