Smaller planes are a growing trend. How safe is that for passengers?

With the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 comes questions. Along with the question about whether the plane had gathered enough ice to make it crash is the question– how safe are smaller jets and turboprops? Because flight demand is down, airlines have switched out some of their larger jets for smaller ones. Those, along with turboprop planes, are often used to connect people to smaller regional airports.

In this New York Times article, the issues surrounding smaller jets and prop planes are examined. Because of the increase of their use–regional aircraft use is up 40% since 2003–looking at their safety records is important.

Here are the positives:

  • Pilots of smaller planes receive as rigorous training as those who pilot larger jets
  • Many smaller planes are new and have the latest equipment.
  • Regional airports and larger airlines have the same safety standards.

Here are the negatives:

  • Since 2000, there have been eight crashes at regional airports. (However, think about the number of traffic accidents you hear about where you live.)
  • Airplanes flying into regional airports often are flown by pilots with less experience.

Another negative about the smaller airplanes is one my mother experienced on her last flight from Columbus to LaGuardia. Because she was on a small plane, she had to carry her carry-on luggage up and down the stairs, and walk outside in order to get into and out of the airport, something that is hard for her to do when it’s cold. Luckily, one of the flight attendant’s helped her.

This photo by jsbarrie is of a prop plane going from Flores to Guatemala City. According to the description, there were boxes of baby chicks among the cargo.

Watching news worsens aviophobia

Aviophobia, a fear of flying is not unusual. The American Psychological Association estimates that 10 percent to 25 percent of Americans suffer from it … despite the fact that we all have heard how much safer flying is than driving. What few probably realize, however, is that this fear can be exacerbated by news of travel disasters: a condition called vicarious trauma.

Flying is one of the two most common fears with which people struggle (the other is public speaking), and the recent crashes in London, Buffalo (i.e., Flight 3407) and New York (i.e., the “Hudson River landing,” Flight 1549) have the potential to ramp it up.

People become victims of vicarious trauma by seeing a crash in the media and putting themselves in that situation mentally. Eventually, they have trouble removing themselves from it. If you have several other phobias at work, they only add fuel to the fire.

Fortunately, you can break out of aviophobia.

Trust is crucial, and you can always get some tips from our resident expert, Kent Wien.

[Via CNN]

9/11 widow dies in Buffalo plane crash

Beverly Eckert, widow of 9/11 victim Sean Rooney, perished on Continental Airlines Flight 3407 last night. She was on her way to Buffalo to celebrate what would have been her husband’s 58th birthday. While in town, she had also planned to participate in the presentation of a scholarship award at Canisius High School. She had created the scholarship in honor of her late husband.

The crash of Continental Flight 3407 occurred at around 10:20 PM, when the plane hit a home in Clarence Center, NY. It resulted in 44 on-board fatalities: all 40 passengers and all four crew members. A person on the ground was killed, as well. Twelve local residents were evacuated, and firefighters were quick to respond, as the crash site was close to the local fire station.

The crash has been described as feeling like “a mini-earthquake” and “a large explosion.”

[Via CNN, photo via thebuffalobean]