Most Americans say air travel is safe despite Alaska Airlines scare

Most U.S. adults consider that air journey is mostly secure within the U.S., regardless of some doubts about whether or not plane are being correctly maintained and stay free from structural issues.

About 7 in 10 U.S. adults say planes are a “very” or “considerably” secure technique of journey, in keeping with a brand new ballot from The Related Press-NORC Middle for Public Affairs Analysis. Even with that top stage of belief, solely about 2 in 10 U.S. adults have “an awesome deal” of confidence that airplanes are being correctly maintained, or that they’re secure from structural faults. One other half have a “reasonable” quantity of religion that that is the case.

The ballot was carried out after a Jan. 5 accident through which a panel blew off an Ontario, California-bound Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliner 16,000 ft (4,900 meters) above Oregon, leaving a gaping gap within the aspect of the airplane. That led to the grounding of greater than 140 planes and raised questions on Boeing’s ongoing manufacturing issues in addition to the Federal Aviation Administration’s means to handle them.

U.S. adults are extra assured in airline pilots’ and air visitors controllers’ means to take care of air security than they’re within the business airways, airplane producers or federal authorities companies charged with it. A majority have no less than a “reasonable” quantity of confidence that every is making certain security.

The door plug from Alaska Airways Flight 1282 was present in a residential space close to Portland, Oregon on Jan. 7, 2024. (NTSB)

Some with fears of flying expressed much more concern due to the Alaska Airways incident.

“I don’t take pleasure in flying. It’s so unnatural — we’re in a metallic tube flying via the air,” mentioned Margaret Burke of Pensacola, Florida, who learn accounts of the jetliner incident, which resulted in no severe accidents. “The truth that folks do fly safely on daily basis appears, to me, like a miracle.”

Regardless of her concern, Burke will board a airplane for a visit to California this spring due to the pace and comfort that air journey affords.

“I’ve a 3-year-old, and I can’t put him in a automobile seat for 3 days straight, that’s simply unfair,” she mentioned.

Even with upkeep issues, U.S. adults have the next stage of certainty that airline pilots and air visitors controllers are well-trained and engaged in correct security procedures. Barely fewer than half — 45% — have “an awesome deal” of confidence in pilots’ coaching, whereas 38% say that about air visitors controllers.

A photograph displaying the opening within the fuselage of Alaska Airways Flight 1282 on Jan. 5, 2024. (IG @strawberrvy)

About one-quarter of U.S. adults have a excessive stage of confidence that air journey is secure from terrorist assaults, or that authorities companies have enacted vital security rules. Even with the variation, a majority of U.S. adults have no less than “a reasonable quantity” of confidence that planes are secure, pilots are well-trained and the rules are applicable.

That could be as a result of flying remains to be a lot safer than driving and likewise safer than rail journey on a per-mile foundation, in keeping with U.S. Division of Transportation figures.

Airline officers and aviation regulators prefer to level out that there has not been a deadly crash of a U.S. airliner since 2009, though in 2018 a passenger died on a Southwest flight after an engine explosion and previously yr there was a pointy enhance in shut calls being investigated by federal officers.

Sherry Kohn, a retired English literature instructor in Pennsylvania, thinks that flying is mostly secure — “I might get on a airplane” — however she is amongst those that are solely reasonably assured that planes are manufactured safely.

“No person goes to place one thing out that’s going to kill folks, I don’t suppose,” she mentioned, “however Boeing has had a historical past of issues.”

On this photograph launched by the Nationwide Transportation Security Board, NTSB Investigator-in-Cost John Lovell examines the fuselage plug space of Alaska Airways Flight 1282 on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, in Portland, Ore. A panel used to plug an space reserved for an exit door on the Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliner blew out Friday evening shortly after the flight took off from Portland, forcing the airplane to return to Portland Worldwide Airport. (Nationwide Transportation Security Board through AP)

Kohn additionally worries about upkeep.

“They recycle these planes so shortly,” she mentioned. “It lands, any individual goes in and vacuums. I don’t know that they’re checking (the planes) as fastidiously as they need to.”

About one-quarter of U.S. adults say they journey by airplane no less than a number of instances a yr when touring lengthy distances.

These frequent flyers are extra possible than those that fly much less typically to have quite a lot of confidence on all classes: that airplanes are being correctly maintained, are secure from structural faults, that air visitors controllers are well-trained, that pilots are well-trained, that authorities companies have enacted the required security rules and that it’s secure from terrorist acts.

Randi Niedfeldt, a retired doctor assistant in Wisconsin, has quite a lot of confidence within the planes, regardless of the current incidents. Her husband is a leisure pilot, and he checks the kind of airplane they’ll be flying on, however they don’t keep away from any particular make or mannequin.

“What number of massive airplane crashes do you hear about?” she requested. “After they occur, they’re catastrophic, however they don’t occur fairly often for the quantity of flying that’s achieved.”


The ballot of 1,152 adults was carried out Jan. 25–29, 2024, utilizing a pattern drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be consultant of the U.S. inhabitants. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 share factors.

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