Are Airplanes Risky?

I am terrified of planes. Yes, you heard me. I hate flying. I’m not really too sure why but the whole idea just freaks me out. Whenever my family and I fly somewhere, my dad always comforts me by telling me that “flying is safer than driving a car.” That is why I have found it ironic that recently in class we have been comparing different risk factors to the risk factor of driving a car. All this talk of risk has recently gotten me interested in finding out just how safe airplanes are, so I decided to do some research.

A major part of my fear of flying comes from the fact that I simply just don’t understand how they work. I don’t like how I am not on the ground. Also, being so high up freaks me out. The first thing I did was research how planes work. I happened to stumble across this NASA article. According to the article, lift is a major factor in the initial step of getting the airplane off of the ground. Airplane wings are specifically designed to create a greater force of air under their wings than on top. Engineers achieve this by designing the wings to move air on top of the wings more quickly than air under the wings. This allows the air on the bottom of the plan to act as an upward force on the machine. Once the plane has been lifted, it turns to its engines to propel it through the sky.

Photo credits

Next, I decided to delve into the safety factor of airplanes. According to this website, one major concern in the world of aviation today is the computer software that is used to fly planes. The article notes that the first question that comes to mind when dealing with the issue of technology in planes is whether the technology can be fully trusted or not. Sure, technology is great when it works, but what happens when it doesn’t? Without a backup plan to the technology, that situation could become detrimental. That also brings me to the next point the article made about airplane technology. Another issue that comes up is airplane pilot’s understanding of and relationship with the technology. The article mentions that this issue is the cause behind a lot of airplane incidents. If pilots don’t understand the technology fully it is too complicated, it hinders his ability to perform his job to the fullest.

Another great point about airplane safety is how safe you actually are on the inside. According to this article, clinics are beginning to see a rise in the number of patients who report cold symptoms and nausea after flying. This had lead some people to believe that air inside of an airplane cabin has the ability to make people sick and is not conducive to people’s health. However, because of these claims, some companies have taken it upon themselves to do research on whether the air is safe or not, and their results have turned up clean. It turns out airplanes are actually very clean places, which leads me to believe that confounding variable are at play. People could perhaps be experiencing some underlying anxiety about flying which then in turn causes them to feel sick. Also, there is always the possibility that they contracted their illness before they flew, and their flight just happened to be at the same time that they began to see symptoms.

Over-all, I actually believe that the risk of taking an airplane is quite small. Sure, there are always possibilities for things to go wrong, but that is life. Airplanes rarely crash, and when they do, they create a shock throughout the world because it is something we are not used to seeing. Even though I still am scared to fly, I feel better knowing how planes work and that people are continuously trying to make them safe.


3 thoughts on “Are Airplanes Risky?

  1. Molly Mccarthy Tompson

    This post covers information and relates to things we’ve discussed in class. You did a good job of researching and identifying the risk of airplanes. However, I think if you wanted to make it even more related to our class, you could’ve incorporated information about “hazard” and other things that actually help us to calculate numerical risk.

  2. Dana Corinne Pirrotta

    This post caught my eye right away because I am flying home for Thanksgiving break, and as a kid in a military family, we have to travel on planes quite a bit. Andrew has mentioned in class a couple times that flying IS safer than riding in a car, so I think that this post is very relevant to what we have been learning. My dad is a military pilot, so my family has to put a lot of trust in the technology he uses to fly, but I do understand that technology can fail. This is a great reason to be anxious on an airplane, and the thought that technology could fail is real, and is scary. Riding an airplane is a relative risk when compared to riding in a car, and this concept is something we have spent a lot of time reiterating in class by comparing the dangers of vaccines to the dangers of cars. If anything, I wish that your post included some airlane statistics, and maybe compared those stats to accidents in cars, trains, etc. This would really strengthen your post and add some real life connectios to the post. Here is an interesting post I found,
    <a href=”Why Airplanes Are Safe”>What you want the link to say that maybe, maybe could reduce your fears of flying!

  3. Darby Helen Smith

    I think that this is a very interesting topic for a blog post, especially because you related it to the concept of risk that we have been learning about in class. You did a good job with finding different mechanisms behind theories in the different articles you posted. However, I think that it would be beneficial to see some studies that have been conducted on the different questions that you brought up. I found a study that might be of interest to you. It is about the human causes of airplane crashes!


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