Fear of flying

So now we have what surely sounds like the worst imaginable terrorist threat: the bomber whose weapon is concealed inside their body. Are we going to need MRIs before boarding a plane?

Maybe it’s time to make the inevitable psychological shift from prevention to risk management.

Flying has always entailed risks – just as their are risks in driving a car or eating in a restaurant.

How’s this for what could be universally accepted as an acceptable level of risk: that the danger of being a victim in a catastrophic air flight is such that one is more likely to die because of mechanical problems or pilot error than because of a terrorist act.

At the close of the standard demonstration on how to secure your seat-belt, put on an oxygen mask, hold a flotation devise and find the emergency exits, this is all the flight attendant needs to add: “… Airlines wishes you a pleasant flight and we assure you that if we don’t reach our destination it will most likely be by accident.”

The risk of such an accident is one that we have all already learned to live with.

If, however, the greatest risk in flying turns out to be the risk of getting blown up, then we do indeed have an enormous problem.

As things currently stand, bad weather (an avoidable threat) poses a greater danger than terrorism and the risk from human error vastly exceeds both.

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