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Our Irrational Fear of Flying

How safe is flying?

It’s still easily one of the safest ways to travel. Public perception has been skewed by recent disasters, such as the Germanwings crash and last year’s two Malaysia Airlines tragedies. Intense media coverage and horrifying disaster photos can make people fear extremely rare events while blithely ignoring more commonplace risks. Statistics show, however, that the chance of a passenger dying on any given flight with one of the world’s major airlines is just 1 in 4.7 million. In any given year, your chance of dying in a traffic accident is 1 in 14,000. You even have a higher chance of dying in a lightning strike (in any given year, 1 in 1.9 million). In the 1970s, an average of 68 commercial planes crashed each year, with 1,676 fatalities. But thanks to vast improvements in cockpit protocols, computerized navigation equipment, and the aircraft themselves, those figures have been almost halved, to 40 crashes and 832 deaths. Last year, about 100,000 flights took off around the world every single day. Of the 33.4 million annual flights, only 21 crashed — an almost miraculous safety record. As aviation safety expert Carl Rochelle puts it, “the most

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