Re: Fear of Flying

Date:         27 Dec 96 13:32:23 
From:         Derek Clarke <derek.clarke@gecm.com>
Organization: GEC-Marconi Inflight Systems
References:   1 2 3 4
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petercoe@best.com (Peter Coe) wrote:
>Tim Long <tlong@vcnet.com> writes:
>
>>M Carling wrote:
>>> The probability of one engine failing in mid-flight on a 747 is less than 1
>>> in 1000.
>
>>I doubt it's that high. I recently flew a KLM 747 LAX to Amsterdam and I
>>asked the pilot how often he had had single engine failures. He stated
>>that he had NEVER had a single failure in his airline career!
>
>Just to counter that as a passenger on a total of 209 flight sectors, I
>have suffered two in-flight shutdowns.  One a precautionary event, the
>other a bird strike.
>
>I have also flown on three aircraft that have since had fatal crashes.
>I think I am therefore a statistical abnormality.
>
>Wonderful thing statistics.

No offence, but you'd only be a statistical abnormality if you were on
all three fatal crashes...

You can't extrapolate statistics like that. The really very limited
number of airliners in the world surely means that "birthday party
effect" kicks in, and the probability of a frequent flier being on an
aircraft that later suffers a fatal crash is actually quite high.

That doesn't mean the probability of suffering a fatal crash on any
particular flight is anything higher than miniscule.

Similarly you can't extrapolate the probability of suffering an in-flight
shutdown from two samples.

Of course I have done no maths to back up that statement!