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USA: Flying commercial is still the safest way to travel

Washington, Jun 22 (Prensa Latina) Despite recurring incidents involving commercial flights so far this year, statistics in the United States suggest that flying commercial continues to be the safest way to travel nowadays.

But the first half of this year has been one incident after another — which could reasonably give passengers pause before booking their next flight. Even some of those who believe flying is safer than the car ride to or from the nearest airport say they understand the growing concern of passengers.

When a door plug blew out on an Alaska Airlines flight on January 5, it did more than leave a gaping hole in the Boeing 737 Max fuselage. It caused some passengers’ phones and clothing to be ripped from their bodies and sent hurtling out into the night as oxygen masks dropped and the plane made its way to the ground, fortunately without any serious injuries. And it also brought new attention to the potential hazards of flying.

The most recent came Wednesday night, when a Southwest Airlines flight descended to within 525 feet of the ground over an Oklahoma town while still nine miles away from the Oklahoma City airport it was approaching, setting off altitude warning from air traffic control, and prompting the flight to climb again. The Federal Aviation Administration said it is investigating.

Past June 18, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Investigations Subcommittee where he answered questions about issues at the aircraft manufacturer (the world’s second largest after Airbus).

Although Calhoun was supposed to claim responsibility, he said he was proud of the company’s safety record amid stories in the air and reports on the ground that have recently undermined confidence of crewmembers and travelers, local press said.

However, flying is the safest way to travel. A count published in local media showed that since a regional airliner crashed in Buffalo, New York, in January 2009, killing all 49 people on board and one on the ground, only five others have lost their lives in accidents on scheduled commercial flights in the country.

In a comparative analysis, an average of over 100 people died daily on U.S. roads and highways between 2003 and 2022, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to CNN.

That means nearly as many people died on roads and highways every hour as the number of those who perished in U.S. commercial aviation accidents in 15 years.

The figures exclude other forms of flying that are not as safe, related to private planes.