7 Myths About Plane Catastrophes Too Many People Tend to Believe

Despite the common opinion about airplane crashes, official numbers say that 95% of passengers involved in accidents on US carriers between 1983 and 2000 survived. In the recent years, we have witnessed evidence of this. In fact, one plane crash happens for every 1.2 million flights, and the possibility of dying is one in 11 million. In comparison, chances of dying in a car or traffic accident are one in 5,000.

We at Bright Side decided to collect some aircraft facts in order to dispel popular passenger myths.

#7. Lightning can blow up a plane.

This may surprise you, but actually lightning hits planes far more often than you would imagine. The statistics say that every aircraft will probably be affected by a lightning strike at least once a year, this makes about 50 strikes a day worldwide. This information may seem frightening for us, but the reality is that nowadays lightning is not really dangerous for an aircraft and can't cause much damage.

A few decades ago the story was different, but now all planes are designed to deal with lightning safely. Aircrafts are made like a metallic cage covered with a surface, which conducts the electricity around the outside of the cabin, cargo compartments, and fuel tanks. Don't believe what you see in the movies.

#6. If autopilot has been hacked, it could lead to crash.

There's a scene in some movies where the autopilot gets hacked and the airplane crew can’t control the aircraft anymore. However, this has nothing to do with reality. For obvious reasons, aircrafts are designed with many levels of security in every system, and this is true for the autopilot as well.

Actually, all planes have at least two separate autopilot computers, and each of them can fly the plane on their own. But even if all autopilots are out of order, pilots are qualified enough to fly the plane themselves.

#5. A hole in the side of the plane can suck people out.

Some movies, like “Final Destination” (New Line Cinema, 2000) have speculated on this one. They portray this type of accident in an aircraft as creating a vacuum effect. However, this is not quite realistic.

Yes, it's true there's a significant difference between air pressure outside and inside a plane, however it’s not enough to make a full vacuum so that passengers will be immediately sucked out of the plane. The reality is that a rush of air will blow around light objects and it will become a cold in the cabin, and of course, oxygen masks will drop. But it will definitely not look like those movie scenes.

#4. Losing an engine is fatal.

This one is quite popular in Hollywood. If an aircraft loses an engine in a movie, this will probably lead to crash. However, the truth is that even an aircraft with just one engine can easily survive in this case.

There have been many instances of a safe powerless landing. Most aircrafts have two or more engines specifically for these kinds of accidents. Planes are designed so that even if an engine fails during take-off, it can still take-off, fly around and land.

#3. Turbulence can be very dangerous.

We should understand that turbulence is a natural occurence when flying. The earth’s atmosphere is not perfectly smooth, and turbulence is a result of millions of small variations in air speed, direction, and density.

Because this is a natural occurance and happens regualrly, airplane manufacturers test new aircrafts in the worst possible conditions. Every plane’s wings are tested to withstand 150% of the maximum stress they will ever encounter, including turbulence. Nothing is as scary as the movies show.

#2. The airplane doors can be opened in flight.

About 70 years ago this might have sounded accurate because even the aircraft itself wasn't pressurized well. But modern planes are pressurized, and all airplane doors, including exit doors, are designed like plugs. They all open by sliding or rotating inwards into the cabin before opening outwards through the doorframe.

This means the doors have to be pulled inward to be opened. Also, according to industry experts, no passenger could ever be strong enough to physically open a plane’s emergency door in the air.

#1. There is no chance of surviving a plane crash.

In movies, an airpane accident usually ends up fatal. However, there are real stories that prove quite the opposite. Like the story of Aloha Airlines Flight 243 between Hilo and Honolulu in Hawaii. On April 28, 1988 the plane suffered extensive damage after an explosive decompression mid-flight, but was able to land safely at Kahului Airport in Maui.

Another instance in 2013, was when after the crash landing of Asiana Flight 214, it seemed unbelievable that 304 of 307 people on board survived. It's actually not that surprising. Numbers from the National Transportation Safety Board show that 95% of passengers involved in accidents on US carriers between 1983 and 2000 survived.

What airplane myths do you believe? Share your answers with us!

Preview photo credit shutterstock, shutterstock
Illustrated by Ekaterina Gapanovich for Bright Side
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