Friday, July 10, 2009

Regarding the fear of flying: Is the Airbus a Lemon?

You probably gasped when you read the title of this post. How DARE I, right? Doesn't your dad fly Airbuses for a living? How could even I consider that?

Calm yourselves, people.

In a recent article over at Salon, Patrick Smith asks this question and quickly explains that NO, the Airbus is not a lemon. Read the article here: Is the Airbus a Lemon?

You can imagine the typical reactions and strings of questions that I (along with my brother and sister, probably) receive up on hearing that my dad is a pilot. "Was he ever home?" "Was he in the Airforce?" "Is that scary?" "Do you fly for free?" "Does he have a moustache?"

Yes. No. No. Hell no. Yes, it's great.

And ime and time again, I have attempted to dispel people's fears of flying by providing them with raw, irrefutable statistical data:

"You're scared of flying? Think of the thousands of flight that take off from every airport in the WORLD every hour, going to every other airport in the world, and how every few years we hear about a MAJOR plane crash." The recent Airbus crashes are a fluke.

Being so close to the airline industry has not only made me immune to the fear of flying, but also oblivious to it. I have never second guessed flying, usually look forward to it, and am always amazed when people are scared. Do you have any idea how much research, development and testing goes into every aircraft built? And do you have any idea how much training, re-training and proficiency checks airline pilots go through every year? Here's a hint: it's a lot.

For as long as I've been alive, my dad has always been level-headed, professional, proud, and devoted to his career, and it irks me greatly when people can offhandedly say that flying is dangerous or life-threatening. Airlines have a responsibility to millions of people, and they can't even afford to consider being anything less than safe. I'm not scared to admit that accidents happen, they do. And that's why you're more likely to get killed on the New Jersey Turnpike, rather than have your plane crash.

It's terrifying even considering the notion of "crash" when, again, I've grown up so close to flying. Yet it would be unrealistic to think that my dad, or any other pilot, has never had to consider the notion. But pilots are lucky: while most of us are signing our lives away when we climb into our cars to drive ourselves to work everday, airline pilots get into an aircraft that has been safety-checked by a team of engineers and mechanics, armed with an advanced computer that is essentially capable of flying the thing itself, and watched by teams of flight control operators in towers across the country.

So I ask you: who's scared now?

1 comment:

  1. the FAA has the strictest regulations of any agency. example: they require that code be debugged line by line! which is insane when you have millions of lines of code.