Despite 737 crisis, air still safest way to travel

Friday, March 15, 2019

Considering all the thousands of airliners in the air at any one time, a couple of crashes shouldn’t be that big of a thing.

That’s small consolation if you’re about to get on one of the planes in question or know someone who died in a crash.

In a private conversation, a commercial pilot once decried the amount of automation in a modern cockpit, citing an instance where a crew had to pull a circuit breaker to regain control of an aircraft.

He was referring to an Airbus jet, but a Boeing product is the latest focus of controversy.

Speculation is that an automatic flight control system is the cause of the latest crash in Ethiopia, as it was in an earlier crash in Indonesia.

A system designed to make flying safer turned deadly when it malfunctioned probably due to faulty sensor readings and/or software shortcomings.

Computer crashes are annoying when one’s trying to publish a newspaper or work a spreadsheet, but they turn literal and deadly when they involve an airliner in its most vulnerable condition, full throttle near the ground at takeoff.

President Trump ordered the planes in question, 737 Max 8s and 9s, to be grounded, and Boeing stock has taken a serious hit, but the company is continuing to build the thousands on order and preparing software updates and training to prevent future accidents.

Grounding of the popular planes, coupled with bad weather, has left many passengers stranded, but air travel will soon to return to as normal a state as it ever has.

According to statistics, you’re 100 times more likely to be killed driving to the airport to get on the plane than you are while about the jet.

If you boarded a Virgin Atlantic flight from London to New York every day, you could expect one fatal crash in the next 14,716 years.

On the other hand, your chance of being killed in a plane crash are about 26 times higher than winning Saturday night’s Powerball lottery, worth about $495 million.

If that happens, chances are you’ll be climbing on a jet soon, but perhaps you’ll own it.

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