bookmark_borderThe truth about flying

The Economist had a great article recently (“Welcome aboard”, subscribers only) about flying, in the form of a welcome-aboard announcement that airlines should really be making. A few quotes:

“[Y]our safety is our first priority. Actually, that is not quite true: if it were, our seats would be rear-facing, like those in military aircraft, since they are safer in the event of an emergency landing.”

Life jacket“Your life-jacket can be found under your seat, but please do not remove it now. In fact, do not bother to look for it at all. In the event of a landing on water, an unprecedented miracle will have occurred, because in the history of aviation the number of wide-bodied aircraft that have made successful landings on water is zero.”

“Please switch off all mobile phones, since they can interfere with the aircraft’s navigation systems. At least, that’s what you’ve always been told. The real reason to switch them off is because they interfere with mobile networks on the ground, but somehow that doesn’t sound quite so good.”

In the most recent issue, there were some letters to the editor elaborating on this article. I quote:

“[A]t today’s cruising altitudes passengers are exposed to a considerable amount of radiation, especially on transatlantic flights close to the pole.”

“The bright-yellow life-jackets are not intended to act as flotation devices. They are there to make it easier for the recovery services to spot the bodies strewn across rough terrain. […] And the advice to adopt a head-down fetal position in the event of a crash landing does nothing to preserve life […] However, the position does tend to preserve dental data, useful for identifying dilapidated corpses.”