July 9, 2006


A decade after TWA Flight 800 crashed, it's safer to fly (SYLVIA ADCOCK, July 8, 2006, Newsday)

In the decade since TWA Flight 800 exploded off Long Island's South Shore, flying on commercial airlines has grown so much safer that the risk of dying in a plane crash has plunged to its lowest level in history.

Improvements in technology and training -- and an added focus on safety spawned by Flight 800 in July 1996 and the ValuJet crash in Florida two months earlier -- have helped usher in an unprecedented period of air safety, experts say.

In the past five years, the accident rate "has been brought to the brink of extinction," said Arnold Barnett, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has done extensive studies of aviation statistics. [...]

The last major crash of a commercial airliner in the United States was in November 2001, when Flight 587 crashed in the Rockaways. That span without a major accident is the longest in modern aviation, Barr said.

Excluding the loss of life on Sept. 11, 2001, the chance of perishing in a domestic flight in the United States has been virtually nonexistent in the past five years. Of the 46 million flights of U.S.-based airlines from 2000 to 2006, only two crashed, including 587, en route to the Dominican Republic, and Alaska Airlines Flight 261, off the California coast in January 2000.

"By every measurement the industry is safer today than it has ever been," said John Cox, a former safety chief for the Air Line Pilots Association and now a Washington, D.C.-based consultant.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 9, 2006 3:23 PM

Well, sure, once they told the Navy "Ixnay on ootingshay the assengerpay etsjay."

Posted by: David Cohen at July 9, 2006 3:53 PM

The whole conspiracy falls apart when people realize that sound and light travel at different speeds (one of them much faster than the other), that 30,000 ft is five miles up, and that even a missile that can reach those altitudes takes the better part of a minute to get ther, and weighs the better part of a ton at launch. But hey, you can only analyze the Zapruder film so many times before you want to demonstrate your analytical skills elsewhere.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at July 9, 2006 4:06 PM

Did you hear the one about the airline pilot who died in his sleep? Too bad his passengers died yelling and screaming.

Posted by: joe shropshire at July 9, 2006 6:52 PM

Just a couple of weeks ago, a plane burned at the gate in Asia with the same type of fuel tank fire that brought down TWA 800.

Posted by: jim hamlen at July 9, 2006 9:30 PM

Which is why we don't fly third world...

Posted by: oj at July 10, 2006 12:16 AM

Mr. Judd: Now you have one less excuse to violate the time zone rule.

Posted by: Buttercup at July 10, 2006 7:52 AM