The Walkerville Weekly Reader

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Walkerville, VA
Monday, July 8, 2024
Carolyn Purcell, Editor

U.S. airline fatalities plummet in 2010

There were no airline fatalities last year. Experts credit statistical lull. Others cite strange anomalies in the data.

Airline fatalities 1982-2010: U.S. airline fatalities from 1982 to 2010, according to the NTSB.; airlines; statistics

Since 2001, airline accident fatalities have dropped significantly. Some claim airline accident survivors also fell catastrophically.

According to fliers, the airline industry has much improved its safety record in the last few years. “If you look specifically at the last four years,” said frequent flyer Stan Lemmiwinks, “and throw out 2009, because I didn’t fly in 2009, there were no fatalities in the last four years. Standard deviation saved my life.”

Experts credit statistic’s standard deviation for the lack of recent airline fatalities except for the one last year. Since 1998, there has never been more than one accident (excluding hijackings) per year. This provides a useful sample for year-to-year comparisons.

According to some experts, there is also a dark side to these statistics. “The number of survivors has been steadily dropping since the nineties,” said documentary filmmaker Marco Leihome in his film Random and Me. “In the last eleven years there have been only two survivors of air accidents. This compares with 1,619 survivors in the years 1989 to 1999. That’s an 820-fold decrease in survivability of airline accidents. Something must be done to increase these numbers.”

Other statisticians take a wider look at these numbers. According to author Branwen Down, “The NTSB accident numbers from 1998 to 2009 look like a binary code—011101111001—and if you take that binary code and convert it to decimal, you get 1913. According to aerohistorians, 1913 was the year of the first major air disaster, that of a German Zeppelin off of Helgoland Island.”

The last Zeppelin death was over twenty years ago, in 1986, a year in which there was only one domestic airline accident. According to Down, this proves that there are secret Zeppelin flights for religious and political leaders, a sort of “shadow airline industry” ferrying members of a pre-modern Hessian conspiracy from meeting to secret meeting.

Other experts criticize Down’s analysis. “Life is a series of stochastic anomalies,” said expert Chi Pearson, “and when the statistical engines stop, then you die. Our earliest duty is to not calculate the statistical foundations that underly our existence.”

Other experts caution that people should not switch from air travel to more dangerous railroads, bus lines, and personal vehicles. “Statistically speaking, airlines are still the safest way to travel,” said Metropolis Daily News contributor Clark J. Kent.

“Stochastic deviations write, and life moves on,” added statistician Walter Heiser. “Not all your plans nor arguments shall cancel half a line, nor all your cries ‘unfair’ wash out a word of it.”

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