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Knowledge of Individual Events vs. Statistics

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  • Knowledge of Individual Events vs. Statistics

    Every fearful flier has done this: Investigate and dwell on the details of individual incidents/accidents even while keeping in mind that, statistically, plane travel is exceedingly safe. The thing is, the causes of an individual fatal event are so seemingly ordinary--a maintenance oversight or a simple pilot error--leading to catastrophe that I can't help but dwell on those things. The Alaska flight, for instance, from 2000 caused by a simple, stripped jackscrew or the Air France stall in the Atlantic from 2009, the wake turbulence event from November 2001, the Buffalo, NY stall/crash, the TWA 800 explosion in 1996, these were horrendous and tragic events that should NEVER have happened. Never. Yet they did. Some attention of maintenance, better pilot training, simple things could easily have prevented them. And the fact that they did means, in my mind, that they could just as well happen again! What's preventing these things from happening when I'm on board? It makes one angry at the necessity of having to surrender one's sense of independence and control to some anonymous entity. Statistically, it's unlikely anything will happen, but the fact that these awful events happened to innocent people really takes a toll on my wanting to trust a pilot or an airline. And after Germanwings, a pilot psychological health is another matter of concern. I do fly, a couple of times a year, and I do OK. But losing one's life in a needlessly catastrophic event due to preventable causes seems like the height of tragedy.