The troubling news story that was with us over the holidays was the disappearance on December 28 of AirAsia flight QZ8501 over the Java Sea. The recent recovery of both flight recorders offers hope for a thorough inquiry to determine the cause of the crash. In light of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014 and the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines MH17 over Ukraine in July 2014, we had hoped that by saying goodbye to 2014, we were putting an end to a particularly poor year in aviation safety history. Unfortunately however, another disastrous aviation incident occurred this past week, heightening the ever increasing fear of airplane transportation safety. On February 4th, TransAsia Airways Flight 235 took a catastrophic plunge into a river in Taipei, after one of the two engines went idle, a mere 37 seconds after takeoff. This tragedy claimed 36 lives, and has left 7 unaccounted for. A dashcam video captured the plane narrowly missing apartment buildings and clipping a passing taxi cab, before crashing top-down into the river. Although this is the first commercial air tragedy to plague news covers of 2015, it has heightened the fear of future aviation safety. With 2014 claiming title to one of the ‘worst years in the history of aviation’ as over one thousand and twenty lives were lost, many people have begun to fear flying, and in fact have opted for sans-air means of transportation.
The media hype surrounding aviation tragedies makes people question whether they should dare step foot in an airplane again. Despite such skepticism and fear, it is to be noted that the percentage of aviation accidents has significantly dropped in the past few years. Although there appears to be an alarming number of aviation fatalities, there are also significantly more aircrafts travelling the skies every day. According to aviation statistics, there was one fatal accident per 1.9 million flights; based on this statistic, airline operations are now almost three times safer than they were twenty years ago. So although fear of flying has become the archetypal modern phobia, do not fret, the chance of aviation tragedy is far less likely than it may appear.
We hope 2015 to be a year full of aviation advancements instead of aviation catastrophes.
By: Kristine Falck