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Home > Air Safety > How accurate are flying statistics?
How accurate are flying statistics?
Aviation - Air Safety
Tuesday, 11 December 2007 21:23

Flying Statistics

Dear Capt Lim, I am leery of flying the British Airways Boeing 777 from Detroit to London. ( I have always flown Northwest DC10 or B747).

On a web site "amigoingdown.com" it calculates odds using various variables. While both the airlines are deemed quite safe, the calculated odds are better for the Boeing 777. This surprises me. Could a 2 engine plane actually be safer when
both are from reputable Airlines?

N. Strause

Hi Strause,

The statistics given by "amigoingdown.com" are based on the information published by the various aviation authorities. They take the overall mortality risk figures for airline fatalities, and adjust that figure depending on where you are flying to, the safety record of the particular Airline and other relevant safety factors. According to "amigoingdown.com," the probabilities of the statistics are worked out using mean variances of the different parameters and weighted accordingly, so as to produce an approximate probability.

The statistical information is updated as and when it comes in. When incidents or accidents occur, all the relevant details are entered onto their database. These contribute to their future statistics. The data spans over several years, so you may get a below average result from an airline whose recent safety record is excellent, but who had a bad year in 1996.

The safety of commercial flight can be described as thus; if you were to take a flight every day, you would have to travel for about 1,000 years on average before being involved in a fatal accident. In essence, the probabilities produced by "amigoingdown.com" highlight how safe it is to travel by air .

The above information are from the "amigoingdown.com" Site and they came together with a disclaimer that the statistics may have errors.

Although the information may at times be inaccurate, in my opinion, for comparison purposes, the statistics give a good indication as to how safe a particular Airline or aircraft can be. For instance, the latest air crashes caused by the kamikaze hijackers on the Boeing 757 and 767 on the 11th of September in New York and Washington DC will invariably affect the statistics of the Airline and aircraft. Without any statistics, one cannot quantify a particular event.

Back to your question as to whether a 2 engine airplane can be safer than a 3 or 4 engine airplane, the calculated odds you extracted from the Site, took into account the age of the aircraft, their accident rates, the safety record of the Operator, the history of past accidents involving the 3 or 4 engine airplanes and also other safety factors.

In the past years or so, DC-10's and B 747's have suffered some fatal accidents and these certainly contributed to their statistics being less favorable to that of the 2 engine B 777's. So far, the B 777's seems to be having quite a good record in terms of safety and what more, they are also the newer airplanes with the latest safety features.

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