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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 17:31 GMT
Airline safety: Are you nervous of flying?
Monday's plane crash in New York is the latest incident to affect an already nervous public about the safety of airline travel.
Official reports suggest that the crash was the result of an accident. These have been bolstered by reports that the pilot released fuel in the sea shortly before his plane came down.
It is the first major airline crash in the US since four passenger flights were crashed in suicide hijackings on 11 September, destroying the World Trade Center in New York and smashing into the Pentagon in Washington.
Has this latest accident made you feel nervous of travelling by air? What measures can be taken to ensure passenger safety? Do you think this will have a serious effect on an already ailing airline industry?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Antonio d'Agostino, UK
I'm flying from Bangkok to New Zealand today and have no qualms about it. We should realise that we are all suffering from a terminal illness called life and just accept that we're all gonna go sometime.
I would be more nervous about using JFK airport than flying as such. TWA crashed in 1997, Swissair crashed in 1998, EgyptAir in 1999 and American Airlines in 2001. All these major crashes departed from JFK which seems rather unlucky compared with other European and American airports.
At Heathrow recently, instead of being asked all the usual dull questions about whether someone had asked me to carry something, if the bag had been out of my sight etc. (you know the drill), I was asked just one question instead; Have you got any sharp objects on you - blades, scissors etc. Naturally I replied no, and that evidently was sufficient. This means we don't all have to turn up so early for flights anymore. What an improvement. As for the old chestnut of flying being safe or not, I can only point out that the majority of your readers will not have had the enlightening experience of daily driving in Portugal, after which the worry of terrorists on airplanes becomes positively irrelevant.
John K, UK
I am supposed to be going on holiday next summer but because of the recent air crashes I honestly don't think I'll be able to fly. I had a fear before - now it's worse.
I am flying to Israel tomorrow morning, and nothing is going to stop me. I mourn with the rest of the world for the airline tragedies - Sept. 11th, Queens this Monday, the Russian plane shot down by mistake - but, people, there have been awful accidents on boats (Titanic), rail (Hatfield) and every other means of transport. The only way forward is to continue as before, so as to prevent thousands from losing their jobs and adding to humanity's loss.
After the terrorist attacks in New York, I would say I am wary about using aeroplanes as a method of travelling. I never really was a regular user but it will make me consider using alternative methods of travel.
I'm getting on a American Airlines flight in a few days, and yes I'm nervous about it. Whether this latest crash was terrorist or accident, the result is the same. I'm concerned about the job layoffs in the airlines business. Based on most union work labour rules, the ones laid off are the newest workers. Just because someone's been at a job the longest, does not by any means make them the best worker.
Flying is so very very safe, even these days. When boarding a plane, try to limit yourself to being as nervous as you would be when crossing the road - you'll feel better, although you'll still be worrying more than you should be!
It's the press that are making people more nervous by asking the question "Are you more nervous to fly now than before Sept 11" - it doesn't bother me.
Patricia Christie, Scotland
Based on the evidence available, Monday's incident sounds tragic, but not intentional. It doesn't make me afraid to fly, because airplane crashes are astonishingly rare. My odds are excellent - far better than during my daily commute to work. I will continue to fly without trepidation, and I will continue to fly American Airlines.
I think the situation has improved for flyers. Besides shorter check-in lines and possibilities of free upgrades, the dumb security questions have been revised for the better. At Heathrow recently, instead of being asked all the usual dull questions about whether someone had asked me to carry something, if the bag had been out of my sight etc etc, I was asked just one question instead: Have you got any sharp objects on you - blades, scissors etc? Naturally I replied no, and that evidently was sufficient. This means we don't all have to turn up so early for flights any more. What an improvement.
As for the old chestnut of flying being safe or not, the majority of your readers will not have had the enlightening experience of daily driving in Portugal, after which the worry of terrorists on airplanes becomes positively irrelevant.
Sandi M, USA
I fly at least 80 times a year on business and this issue is never far from my thoughts. It is often said, if not over quoted, that flying is the safest way to travel. This is a measure of people travelling against miles travelled and is a questionable statistic. A better way to look at it would be to examine survival rates in accidents and then you will get a truer, probably grimmer picture. I'm sure more people walk away from train or car wrecks than they do from airline disasters.
There must be a way to increase survivability. Airliners themselves are testament to human ingenuity so why not invest in preserving lives? You don't need to be a genius to work that one out.
Will I ever fly again? Yes, I can't avoid it. But I will be wide awake, and will need a few more cups of coffee than usual. Hope the airlines don't cut back on that.
As I understand it, airlines in America successfully challenged tighter security measures suggested by the Clinton administration. The CEO of BA considers those who do not fly to be cowards and now I have just read that the plane that so tragically has just crashed in NY was unfit to fly - whether I am nervous about flying is irrelevant, I am beginning to form the impression that these companies do not deserve our money.
Naturally it makes me a little nervy but just look at the statistics. How many more people are killed crossing a road in the UK than by an air accident? The reason these accidents are so well reported is because they are rare: unfortunately those who die in car piles ups do not make news.
I'm travelling to Israel from the UK this Xmas. Wonder how good my chances are?!
Flying is no more dangerous now than it was pre-11 September. People are just more frightened.
If anything, things have changed slightly for the better! Prior to 11th September mechanical failures on aircraft were just as likely as they are now, and both government intelligence, and security at airports were, if anything, worse. Therefore, you have statistically a somewhat lower chance of being killed in an aircraft than you did before 11th September.
Do you become progressively more frightened of driving every time there is a car accident reported?
What is wrong with our media - and why do we put up with it?
Already it is being accepted that this was "probably an accident, but tragic nonetheless".
An engine BLOWS OFF the wing of 767 out of NEW YORK two months after.. - you know the rest.
The last thing American airlines, and the US want, is for people to think that people are scaling perimeter fences strapping explosives to engines - but does our free media have to tow their line?
"Sabotage until proven otherwise" should be the attitude in the present circumstances.
Accidents do happen and can be very tragic at times. Let's not combine this with the problem of terrorism. All the same, a sense of fear and insecurity may have crept in the minds of the US citizens. But they have to rise to the occasion and put aside all the odds to get back to the normal lives as quick as possible.
I am not happy hearing news reports that security at most US airports is still conducted on either profiling or random searches. This makes me feel like they are taking chances with my life, as my safety will depend on the security personnel making the correct choices or worse yet, playing the odds game.
I for one would not mind having to show up at the airport earlier if it meant that everyone going into that plane will be thoroughly searched, and that includes the maintenance crew, ground crew, plus anyone who may have access to any part of the planes. I am aware that this represents an inconvenience to the passengers and added cost to the airlines who will of course pass these on. However, I would rather pay more and be truly safe than save myself time or money and take higher odds with my life.
John B, UK
I hope this is "just" another tragic, but rare, accident that afflicts the air travel industry from time to time - and not another terrorist outrage. Our sympathies go to all those who have lost family and friends. Even if it is an attack, I'm still going to fly. To quit is to give the terrorists what they want. The object of terror is to terrorise, to deter by any means, to stop your opponents from living a normal life - until they give you what you want. Don't let them win, America.
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