How Safe is Flying?

Thumpalumpacus

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Note the make/models listed there - a 747 weighs like 800,000 pounds fully loaded.

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Yep. The atmosphere is a liquid environment, like the ocean ... and like the ocean, is not to be trifled with, or taken for granted.

Wind shear accelerated D191 by 40kts in about 1.5 seconds ... the plane was at around 300,000 lbs, assuming normal fuel-loading, with 163 SoBs. That is a primal force.
 

yeppedeppdepp

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I'm not a pilot (simulators? yes), but i've been watching these in-depth documentaries for years, and thanks to my interests in engineering, i also know a lot about how the general commercial jet works.

Most of the time, fear of flying is usually down to lack of understanding of how an aircraft actually performs. Aircraft are built to 'want' to fly. A single failure, however serious, will never bring down an aircraft in a way that can't be done safely.

Disasters that you hear about are always down to a series of simultaneous failures, which, rest-assured, are always investigated, and corrected in all aircraft, no matter how little the issue may be.

Most people hate the idea of turbulence... me on the other hand, i quite like it. It's quite fun actually... because i know that turbulence will never do any harm.

The last i heard, the problem with the long shifts was currently being looked at, and i think some rules were being put in place. It was after the crash of Colgan Flight 3407 that exhaustion was deemed a problem.

You have NEVER had any insight on maintenance departments :laugh2:
You'd be rather scared then. I was there for a week (internship) and honestly, there are some airlines that I'd steer clear of.
I won't call names, but there was one 737 that had just so many tiny fractures and cracks, on important parts, that our chef didn't want to let it go. And it flew quite a few hours before it came in. With those cracks.

You're right, turbulence won't do any harm...as long as you are not sitting in one of "those" airplanes. And from what I've seen in that one week, and from what the coworkers told me, "those" aren't rare.
And most airlines don't correct all issues as long as the press doesn't shitstorm them. Too expensive. The folks in charge are always business people, not pilots or engineers.
 

SteveGangi

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There were ZERO deaths on a commercial air carrier in 2010.

Personally, I hate commercial flying with a passion due to the TSA bullsh!t and customer service.

I'm a private pilot - I'd rather fly the "dangerous" small ones any day.


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And yet, even then, you're safer statistically than anyone driving on any freeway.
 

Publius pro tem

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Yeah, and I LOVE to fly.

Can't think of the last time I felt that way about freeway traffic.


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Caleb

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Hey Neo, when you're flying a plane and it starts to get a little choppy, do your passengers' states of mind and conduct have any effect in you? Or are you able to block it out? I'm quite certain that a pilot's demeanor has an effect on the passengers. Hell, Sully during the Miracle on the Hudson seems to be a prominent and positive example of this. What do you think? Just curious.
 

Publius pro tem

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Hey Neo, when you're flying a plane and it starts to get a little choppy, do your
passengers' states of mind and conduct have any effect in you?
Oh, sure it does.
If I'm flying with somebody who "gets it" because they have plenty of experience?
We just communicate about it, think out loud and such.
Double check everything so I don't assume he did something for me - or vice versa.

If I have a White Knuckle flyer with me, I try to make sure they don't get spooked.
Answer questions, prompt them to talk to me so I can gauge their mood if I'm not on the radio.


Or are you able to block it out?
I'm quite certain that a pilot's demeanor has an effect on the passengers.
I don't try to ignore or minimize anything.
On the other hand, I do keep a poker face going if something doesn't look right.

I made the mistake in turbulence once.
A woman I was dating was with me as I was descending into Austin Exec.
Thermals down low were bouncing us around pretty good - she said "I don't like this..."
Trying to demonstrate some empathy, I replied that I didn't like it either.
Evidently, that scared her - thinking we were really in trouble.

Took a long time to explain all that - long after we landed - with little result.

I tried to explain that we were in a plane that weighs 2,500 pounds in the heat of the afternoon.
Close to the ground, with some wind, in the hills, it simply gets bumpy.

(If we had left Houston as early as I planned, it would have never been an issue.)


Hell, Sully during the Miracle in the Hudson seems to be a prominent and positive example of this.
What do you think?
Just curious.
Sully is da man - let there be no doubt.
I'm not fit to polish that man's shoes - and I hope I never have to prove that I am.



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Caleb

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Great reply Neo, I'm thankful for it. I'm always thinking about shit that rarely has anything to do with anything I have knowledge of, so it's nice to hear from guys who have been there and done that. As far as what you said abut Sully, I'm right there with you. If I was at the airport and that man tossed me his keys and said, 'Yo, bring the car around Mac,' I'd have it out front, gassed up and with clean windows. The guy is the truth.
 

Thumpalumpacus

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Sully is da man - let there be no doubt.
I'm not fit to polish that man's shoes - and I hope I never have to prove that I am.



.

A few weeks back, I watched the reconstruction of that flight, from take-off to set-down.

What blew me away was the speed he ran down his decision tree. Within thirty seconds of the birdstrikes, he knew he wasn't getting back to LGA, and while ATC kept on with looking for alternates, it seems clear to me that he knew incredibly early that they would be swimming. I'm no pilot, but his deadstick flare at the end of that flight looks masterful, to me, bleeding off energy to minimize impact forces.

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tE_5eiYn0D0[/ame]

An incredible feat of airmanship.
 

moodyedge

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Very. Crashing, not so much.


Larry%2520David%2520coffee-thumb.jpg
 

Caleb

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An incredible feat of airmanship.

Dude, the ATC didn't even copy his transmission of, "We're gonna be in the Hudson." The ATC was still talking airports after that. Another pilot came over the air and said, "I think he said he's going in the Hudson."

The wildest part of the full transcript was when Sully said to his First Officer, "Any ideas?"

The response? "Not actually."

Immediately afterward, Sully to the cabin, "Brace for impact."

BALLS OF STEEL.
 

Thumpalumpacus

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Yeah, ATC is still hunting up the airport in Jersey's phone number ... Sully is getting out his beach towel.

Air Force-trained.
 

Caleb

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Air Force-trained.

Another interesting thought. I read an article some time ago. The gist was that airline safety is ironically suffering because now there are not as many commercial pilots who were hot shot military fly boys as in years past.

The folks who are going straight from high school or college to commercial flight school these days aren't as likely to decide in 90 seconds that the best bet is to land in a river, for example, as compared to a SERE graduate.

The theme was basically that knowledge does not provide nerve. I think it has some merit.
 

Thumpalumpacus

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That might be part of it. I also think that emergencies usually (but not always) evolve faster in fighter and attack jets than they do in larger passenger/cargo craft.
 

Publius pro tem

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The theme was basically that knowledge does not provide nerve.
I think it has some merit.
I agree 100%.

Taking out loans to get through flight school, building hours instructing other newbies,
and then getting an ATP job with 1,500 hours under your belt isn't exactly rocket science.

It's more the norm.
In a few months, ab initio training can make a commercial pilot out of somebody who never left the ground before.


My empirical data for correlation?
Truck driving "schools" after the CDL requirement became federal in 1992.

People used to grow up around heavy trucks (and airplanes) and work their way into the seat.
YEARS of valuable experience, and a lifestyle suited to it.


Now you're "trained" in a matter of weeks.
People who grew up around it don't stand a chance getting in the door without "credentials."


Insurance companies are largely to blame, which is a result of our tort-addled jackpot legal system.


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Emmitt Fitzhume

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Commercial flying is the safest way to travel. Every year I have to go through recurrent ground training and two days of simulator training practicing emergencies, approaches and maneuvers plus a line check where a check airman observes me and my first officer conduct a regular flight. Not to mention that I want to return home and see my wife and kids after my four days on duty.

As for planes landing themselves, most of the large airliners can land themselves but they only do if the visibility at the airport is near or at zero. The Embraer regional jets that I fly are capable of landing in a little less than a quarter mile of visibility, which is known as a Category II ILS approach. The autopilot flies the plane while we monitor it down to 100 feet and if I have the approach lights or runway in sight at that point I turn off the autopilot and land it. It happens very fast, I'm touching down about 5 seconds after seeing the runway. If I don't see anything at 100' then we abort the approach and go to our planned alternate airport with better weather. I usually only have to do a couple actual Cat II approaches a year because it's rare that the visibility is that low. I also do a bunch in the simulator every year.
 

Sinster

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Real Pilots don't flinch at the checkerboard. :)

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtnL4KYVtDE]747 Crosswind Landing Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport (1998) - YouTube[/ame]

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8g-ArLYsloI]Boeing 747 Cockpit Video landing Hong Kong Kai Tak Rain IGS (1998) - YouTube[/ame]


This separates the boys from the men.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlKApjc9T2U"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlKApjc9T2U[/ame]
 

Sinster

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At the 57 second the pilot that was flying this aircraft was a Pilot for one of the companies I use work for.
1:48 is the crash with DJ AM and Travis... from Blink 182..

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYMWIa3g578]Plane Trouble - YouTube[/ame]

Some of these landings are "Tex" Johnstons

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQnDPIkaJ34"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQnDPIkaJ34[/ame]

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0sDN-CQZCs"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0sDN-CQZCs[/ame]
 

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