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Just How Safe Are You Flying?


airplane-flickr-Kuster & Wildhaber Photography

More people travel more miles in the air with fewer accidents and fatalities than on major highways. Because national and international flights are closely monitored by several government agencies, great care is taken to ensure every aircraft is structurally sound and operationally safe.

Just How Many Safety Checks Are There?

There are over 30 separate checklists that must be thoroughly evaluated before a plane can take off. From interior checks to ground checks, every aspect of the plane’s operational systems is checked and checked again. While pilot, flight attendants and other onboard crew personnel are checking the interior of the plane, ground crews and mechanics are going over the outside of the plane to make sure every component is in good working order.

Pilot Training

Pilots who are hired to fly commercial jets must meet several requirements before they are allowed to take control of a large aircraft. Eligibility requirements include:

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Speak, read and write fluent English
  • Hold a private pilot’s license
  • Obtain a 2nd Class Medical Certification
  • Take the FAA Written Exam and Pass

Some airlines require their pilots to fly several flights under the command of a more experienced pilot before being allowed to take the lead role on a major flight.

During the initial training period, a new pilot will be required to learn basic maneuvers as well as complete at least one cross country flight. These test flights are known as “checkrides”. A new pilot may be expected to go through several checkrides before their training period is over.

Safest Airlines

The top 5 American airlines are:

  • AirTran
  • Southwest
  • US Airways
  • Continental
  • Delta

Most of the data collected involves dividing the number of “incidents” (accidents or complaints) by the number of flights. By these numbers AirTran has proven to be the safest airline in the United States. Part of the credit for this revolves around the fact that it has the newest fleet of airplanes in use. One thing that is important to remember when discussing the numbers of incidents in relation to accidents is that all flights and aircrafts are closely monitored by federal agencies. This means that before a flight can take off, it has been thoroughly checked for any possible malfunction.

Flying in the United States is probably the safest form of travel. Because the condition of each aircraft is closely monitored and the crews are highly trained to be able to handle any situation, there is little left to chance. Each airline also takes great pride in keeping their number of incidents and complaints low. Customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance to each company and all measures are taken to ensure the safety of both traveler and crew member.

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