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"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
Winston Churchill
 

Before you read an article on Aerophobia (fear of flying), read the following questions.

1. How many fatal plane crashes were there in 2009?
2. What is the main reason for the increase in flight safety?
3. Why do the cabin crew on some aircraft visit the cockpit every fifteen minutes?

Do you suffer from fear of flying? If you do you are alone. Aerophobia is widespread, affecting a significant minority of the population.
It may prevent a person from going on vacations or visiting family and friends, and it can severely damage the career of a businessperson by preventing him or her from travelling on work-related business.

Millions of people around the world think of flying as an anxiety-filled nightmare. Fear of flying may be a distinct phobia in itself, or it may be an indirect combination of one or more other phobias, such as claustrophobia (a fear of enclosed spaces) or acrophobia (a fear of heights). Sufferers cope in a variety of ways: taking tranquilizers, taking large quantities of alcohol before a flight or by simply not getting into a plane. This final option is one which is becoming increasingly impractical. Whether for business or pleasure, travel has become an everyday necessity, and in many instances the only realistic choice is to grit your teeth, take a deep breath, fasten your seatbelt and take off.

Whether we like flying or not, sooner or later most of us will have to fly, and possibly one of the best ways to deal with it is to take a long hard look at the facts and the scientific evidence before us.

In recent years, a number of statistics have been published which put the danger of flying into a more realistic perspective. Although plane crashes seem to appear on the news with alarming frequency, we should also take into account that this is balanced by the fact that the number of flights has also increased. In the early 1950’s, the chance of a fatal accident in a plane was around 18 in a million; that figure is now less than one in 12 million (including smaller aircraft). In the 2009, there were 120 fatal plane crashes worldwide, and 1,103 deaths. The worst year for crashes was 1972 with 3,214 fatalities. According to the statistics published by ACRO in Geneva, the three safest airlines are British Airways, Singapore Airlines and Dutch airline KLM, with the Australian carrier Qantas coming in fourth. The worst accident record is held by the Russian airline Aeroflot.

The increase in the safety of flight is largely due to technical improvements and stricter regulations. Huge advances were made in the 1970’s with the introduction of turbofan jet engines, more powerful, quieter and easier to maintain than the turbojet engines they replaced. Computer technology made it possible to develop autopilot systems, and in the 1980’s these reached the stage where an entire flight, including landing, could be controlled automatically. Ground Proximity Warning Systems and Wind Shear Alert Systems were introduced on the ground and the Federal Aviation Authority established Terminal Control Areas to prevent collisions around busy airports with high traffic density.

Unfortunately, improvements in technology cannot be relied upon to prevent accidents. At an average of 54% during the last decade, human error is by far the largest factor in aircraft disasters (pilot error alone accounted for 45%). Mechanical failure accounted for 28% of accidents during the last ten years, and the weather was blamed for 8% of all accidents. Only 9% was due to terrorist attack or sabotage.

At a time when delays are commonplace, pilots frequently have to work for longer than the recommended shift. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, pilots can work up to a 16 hours a day. Combine this with virtually automatic control systems and you have a situation in which tired pilots, with little to do, find it difficult to stay awake. On some airlines, the cabin crew is advised to visit the cockpit every 15 minutes, just to check that the flight crew are awake!

Aircraft maintenance is another major cause for concern. Sceptics fear that cheap, cost-cutting airlines may cut corners in this crucial area. Add this to the continuing threat from terrorist attacks and you would be forgiven for sympathising with those who refuse to fly.

However, in the final analysis, it’s important to see the situation in a statistical perspective. As the numbers show, if you only fly with the top 25 safest airlines in the world, you have a one in 13.57 million chance of meeting with a fatal accident. That’s about as likely as being struck by lightening.

* Statistics sources:
 - The Aircraft Crashes Record Office (ACRO) – Geneva.
 - faqs.org
 - airsafe.com
 - planecrashinfo.com


cabin crew = tripulación de abordo
widespread = extendido
to cope (with s.t.) = arreglárselas con algo
to grit your teeth = apretar los dientes
 
fasten your seatbelt = abroche su cinturón
entire = entero
wind shear = turbulencia
shift = turno
threat = amenaza
he was struck by lightning = le cayó un rayo

Now answer the questions.

1. How many fatal plane crashes were there in 2009?

2. What is the main reason for the increase in flight safety?

3. Why do the cabin crew on some aircraft visit the cockpit every fifteen minutes?

Answers Check your answers.

Now read the article again and complete the following notes.

- Crash statistics:
Chances of dying in a plane crash in the early 1950’s
Chances of dying in a plane crash present day
Worst year for fatalities: with fatalities.
Crashes in 2009: 120. Fatalities in 2009:

- Safest airlines:
1.
2.
3.
4.

- Worst airline for safety:

- Technical improvements include:
5. which replaced turbojet engines.
6. Computer technology and .
7. Ground and Wind
8. TCA’s (Terminal ) around busy .

- Largest factor in aircraft disasters: .

- Cause of fatal accidents in the last decade:
Pilot error:
Total human error:
: 28%
: 8%
Terrorist attack/sabotage:

- Maximum amount of hours a pilot can work in a day:

- Chances of having an accident when flying with top 25 airlines:

Answers Check your answers.

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