Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Air or Road Travel for Safety?

What with recent air crashes in Greece, Tunisia and Venezuela, the overshooting of the runway at Toronto airport by an Air France Airbus jet and the emergency landing of a Qantas international jet at Osaka due to fire warning in the cargo hold, many are wondering whether it’s still safe to travel by commercial air travel instead of by road when there is a choice.

I dare say air travel by commercial air transportation is always safer for a number of reasons. Because I will be referring to commercial air travel, the personalities I refer to, such as pilots, mechanics etc, will be professionals only and aircraft (aeroplanes and helicopters) will be those pertaining to modern commercial operations:

(1) For a start, flying has a better safety record than road transportation

(2) Pilots are far better trained than drivers.
(3) Pilots are required by law to have a minimum amount of training if they wish to fly passengers commercially. The training are more rigorously regulated than those for road transportation.
(4) Pilots are on average in better health than the road transport driver because they are required to undergo annual medical examination.
(5) Pilots are tested (or checked) regularly, by their own company and an official examiner at least once a year.
(6) Pilots are restricted to a certain number of flying per day, week, month and year so as not to be over fatigued.
(7) Pilots have prescribed rest plans.
(8) It's very rare for untrained pilots to fly passengers whereas it's fairly often taht untrained bus or truck drivers have been caught.

(9) Aircraft are regulated to have certain minimum power and weight, in order to be able to takeoff or land on a runway, clear obstacles, etc. In other words, teh performance of an aeroplane is more assured than that for a truck or bus.
(10) Aircraft are built with multiple emergencies in mind including escape facilities such as minimum number of exits, escape chutes, lift rafts, lifejackets, oxygen equipment, medical equipment, etc. The aeroplane's cabin crew are far better trained than a bus conductor.
(11) Aircraft has a rigorous maintenance programme.
(12) Aircraft are better built than the average road transport.

(13) Traffic in the air are in general more rigorously controlled.
(14) Radar and other surveillance devices are used more in the air than on road to keep track of aircraft to prevent collisions. yes, on roads one does get radar when police uses them to catch speed violations to issue the errant driver a ticket.
(15) Pilots are more aware of traffic rules an procedures than the average driver. They contact each other and the air traffic controller by radio, unlike road transports where it’s usually see and be seen and keep clear, or get killed.
(16) Air traffic rules and procedures are far more uniform internationally than those for roads, hence easier to understood and less likely to be violated out of misunderstanding.

The list goes on and on as to why air travel is far more safe than road travel. What do you think?

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