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Is commercial aviation safer than 20 years ago?

Have commercial aviation disasters decreased over the past few decades? The answer is "Yes."

Although plane crashes still take place, the survival rate for passengers is much greater than in the past. The biggest reason for this is because manufacturers of aircraft parts and planes are making improvements based on prior accidents. For instance, materials used in seat cushions and carpet are more fire retardant than in the past. The material not only burns slower, but it also doesn’t emit dangerous and noxious gases.

The seats are also stronger in newer planes. Bolts adhering the seats to the floor can withstand 16 times the force of gravity. This keeps the seats from sliding together and crushing passengers when a crash occurs. Exits have been made clearly visible by red lighting on the floor. Exit doors open more easily to allow passengers to get out faster in case of a fire.

In addition, planes are being built with new technology that makes navigation much safer and more accurate. Planes crashing into mountains or colliding with one another rarely occur today.

When commercial aircraft accidents do occur now, there are usually fewer casualties than in accidents that occurred 20 or 30 years ago. An example of that is when a US Airways flight struck a flock of geese in 2009. The plane was able to land in the Hudson River without any casualties at all. All 155 passengers were able to exit and survived the crash.

However, Texas residents know that although aviation disasters may have decreased, they are not obsolete. Fatal airplane accidents still occur, but with the continual improvements in aviation equipment and technology, we may see less loss of lives and mass devastation than in the past.

Source: Huffington Post Travel, "Plane Crash Survival Odds Boosted By Safety Advances" Scott Mayerowitz, Associated Press, accessed Mar. 13, 2015

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