A few weeks ago, an engine on a Southwest 737 shredded in mid-air, killing one passenger. It made all the headlines and everyone, myself included, is sad for that family’s loss. But, hidden in the sensationalism of modern news coverage is an amazing stat: This was the first U.S. commercial airliner fatality since February 12, 2009.
In the U.S., there are about 26,000 flights on the average day according to the FAA. If you do some rough math, 26,000 X 365 days x 9 years = 85,410,000 flights between fatalities. That is truly incredible.
If you want a bit of historical context, there were 44 flights with fatalities in about 2 1/2 decades from 1982 – 2009 (not counting the flights taken down by terrorists on 9/11/2002). Clearly, air travel safety has become much better in the last decade, as you can see on this webpage from the NTSB.
Things are getting better in leaps and bounds, if you look past the headlines that prey on people’s worries (and sell more advertising).