Dear Captain Lim,
First of all, I want to thank you for your wonderful website as it has helped so many frightened flyers, like myself, to gain confidence and overcome some of their fears. I also want to thank you for all the effort you put into the site, particularly when you have a very busy schedule!
I am flying to Melbourne from Singapore in a few days time and have used your site to calm my nerves but, to my horror, I have realized that the aircraft I am flying on is a Boeing 747-400. I say "horror" because after reading your site, there is no other aircraft I feel safe to fly on other than the A340 or B777!!
How do you compare the safety mechanisms of the B747-400 to the B777? Would you willingly fly a Megatop or do you have safety concerns? Will the B747-400 also glide to a safe landing if its engines failed and are the wings as sturdy as the B777?
I guess the real question I am asking here is: Although the B747-400 is not as technologically advanced as the B777, have all the same tests been conducted on the aircraft and pilot in terms of technical emergencies; and does the aircraft have reserve computers, etc, that kick in during any of these emergencies? Please don't scare me!
Thank you very much for your time!
I am sorry that you are 'horrified' to know that you are flying on a Boeing 747-400 rather than on a Boeing 777. Just because I have taken the time to write about the good features of the later airplane, it doesn't mean that the B747-400 is not as safe.
To further boost your confidence, I would like to add that the Boeing 747 is an immensely successful commercial airliner and the most recognized airplane in the world today. Let me give you some statistics of this famous airplane (ah, before the Airbus A380 comes into the picture soon!):
The Boeing 747-100 first flew in 1969 - 37 years ago. Its first passenger flight in January 21, 1970, was from New York to London. Six months later, it flew one million passengers.
The first B747-400 model entered service in 1989. There are 3 types: the all-passenger, combi (passenger and cargo) and all-cargo model.
Up to date, there are over 1215 Boeing 747s being built and about 1,100 are still in service. Over the past 30 years, 2.2 billion passengers have flown on this airplane. So, the integrity of this plane should not be of any safety concern, otherwise it would not have been that popular!
Yes, the Boeing 747 can glide and the wings are just as strong. The earlier Boeing 747 models may not be as technologically advanced as the Boeing 777, but the later ones (B747-400s) are also being upgraded with some state-of-the-art computers in most cases.
Of course, the Boeing 777s have many newer features - this is to raise the safety margin even HIGHER - not to make you feel that the Boeing 747-400 is any less safe!
Remember, flying is a very safe form of fast transportation. So, as you travel on the Megatop from Singapore to Melbourne, sit back and smile, knowing that you're very safe on board - the odds of an accident is one in 5 million (you have a better chance of winning a lottery ticket!)
Happy and safe flying!