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An Amazing Record of Safety — Air Travel

Close calls, but no major crashes.

This past week air travel was expected to have almost 30 million passengers flying over the Thanksgiving holiday. If you take a typical 737 aircraft with 215 passengers, that means there were approximately 139,534 flights in the United States.

All those people and planes in the air and no major accidents. In fact, for an accident, we have to go back to January 2000 when an Alaska Airlines plane crashed. That was the last major airliner accident in the continental U.S.

I’m not wishing ill of anyone, but yikes, that is an amazing safety record when you consider all the risks (human and mechanical) that could have caused something to happen over those 23 years. Maybe the airlines and the system are good or we collectively have been very lucky. Many a close call for sure! Take the “Miracle on the Hudson” for instance.

There have been recent warnings that the air traffic control systems need updating and there is a shortage of air traffic controllers. It would seem to me that portion of the commercial air system is stressed.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.