Is flying the safest mode of travel? - EDITORIAL

26 March 2015 04:09 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Is flying still the safest mode of transportation? Yes it is. According to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor the death risk for passengers of commercial airlines is one in 45 million flights. The New York Times says a traveller could fly every day for 123,000 years and still be safe! 
Despite all these assurances and empirical evidence suggesting that flying is the safest mode of travel, the incidents of commercial air plane crashes have been too many last year. In this backdrop, the first major airplane crash for this year was recorded this Tuesday when a commercial airliner belonging to budget career Germanwings, a unit of Germany’s Lufthansa, crashed with 150 on board near Alps in Southeastern France. The plane was obliterated as the rescue crews found bits and pieces of the plane along with human remains strewn within a few hundred metre radius. 

The year 2014 was a deadly year for flying. According to Aviation Safety Networks, an organisation that tracks aviation statistics, there have been 692 deaths in 20 commercial aviation accidents in 2014. This includes a Malaysian Airline flight which vanished from radar with 239 on board and is yet to be found. The picture the statistics suggest seem sextremely grim and the skies appear to be getting dangerous. But, according to Aviation Safety Network data, the aviation industry has been enjoying its safest-ever decade and a half since the beginning of the Millennium. 

Though the statistics might give us a feeling of temporary comfort, an air plane crash is always too big an incident to forget. The impact a plane crash has, does not limit to the relatives of those on board, the airline company and the country to which the airline belongs. Hence, certain measures should be taken to prevent these crashes to the extent that the world aviation industry can. Of course the industry on a daily basis must be striving to make the skies safe, but there can be certain areas that they may have neglected.

One such area aviation experts point out is improving the skill sets of commercial airline pilots. Questions have arisen from time to time whether commercial airline pilots are too reliant on technology. ‘Cockpit complacency’ is a phenomenon which has occurred many a time during crash investigations. The over-reliance on the autopilot system has evidently made some pilots complacent and pilot training programmes more or less a complicated computer game. Thanks to modern technology, the vast majority of the commercial airline pilots may not get an opportunity to test at least the few maneuvers they are taught at the flying school. It was undoubtedly the technological advancements in the field of aviation that had made it the safest travel mode in the world. But adequate human touch is paramount in making these technological advances perfect. Hence it is high time the aviation industry did some soul searching and found the correct mix of technology and human touch to make the skies even safer for air travelling. 
 
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