Is Air Travel Too Safe?

Photograph by David Ryle

The search for answers around the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 continues to generate an outsize amount of attention for an airplane tragedy—a subject that already commands a disproportionate level of public concern. This has been true for decades: A mid-1990s analysis of New York Times front-page stories found that there were 1,382 stories per 10,000 U.S. deaths involving commercial jets. (For car accidents, it was less than one story per 10,000 deaths.) The obsession with airline crashes in part reflects their rarity, even on the benighted Malaysia Airlines. According to data up to the middle of last decade, Malaysia’s flag carrier had suffered two fatal crashes in 1.8 million flights—an accident rate better than Air France, KLM, or Swissair at the time.

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.