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Am I normal? Statistics needed!

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Am I normal? Statistics needed!

Old 9th Apr 2014, 13:49
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Join Date: May 2008
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Am I normal? Statistics needed!

I've heard of pilots being uncomfortable with heights, and it's fair to say I fall firmly into that category. I love flying, the higher the better. I've had a go at aeros and I can't wait to jump out of an aircraft for the first time. On the other hand, I can't go up a ladder outside my house! This, I sort of understand and I realise I'm not alone.

I haven't been on a commercial flight since a year or so before I started learning to fly (2008, began training 2009). Before that I was away on holiday pretty much annually, anywhere from Spain to Hawaii, doing differing amounts of flying on airliners, even through severe turbulence. No issue.

I was recently talking to a family member who has a fear of flying the other day and whilst I didn't admit directly to her, I had a sudden realisation that I was terrified by the thought of going aboard an airliner!

I don't think it's the fact that someone (or something) else is flying it. I don't think it's the fact that everyone is packed like sardines into the cabin. I genuinely think it's the idea of the pressurised cabin and the prospect of little oxygen or pressure immediately outside the aircraft. I also fear a water landing, even though stupidly I can fly a light aircraft to the IoM or over the wash without worrying. In my head a water landing in a PA28 is more survivable than one in a 767.

I'm so disturbed by the thought of going on an airliner that I whince at the very thought of taking my belt off mid flight. A real u-turn, considering the fact that I originally got into flying to be a commercial pilot! Luckily, that's no longer my aim. I genuinely feel that if an opportunity to go on an airliner presents itself, I'll turn it down! Yet in light aircraft I love it and can't wait to get airborne again, even though I know the risks of flying in IMC at night in a single (not that I do that sort of flying, but I'd prefer it to getting on a 300 seat, 450kt, £multi-million coffin).

I think I may need to convinced I'm safe, via numbers. For example, I had two main instructors when working towards PPL/IMC, one with 1k hours, the other with 9k hours. Neither of them had ever suffered an engine failure, and all their hours were on singles with the exception of the odd hundred which were on twins. I don't fear an engine failure, even though I know it can and does happen. I know I'm unlikely to ever fly more than a couple of thousand hours, which helps me feel safe in this instance. Does anyone know statistically how many engine failures occur during the lifetime of an average Lycoming? 1? 10? 0.01? I don't.

So:

If an airliner has to ditch, what are my chances of dying from the cold water, rather than the landing on calm seas, as is likely the case in a light aircraft?

How often do rapid depressurisations occur, with the fog in the cabin and oxygen masks having to be donned?

When a depressurisation does occur, what % of people suffer hearing damage? How many people will end up unconscious? How difficult really is it, putting on a mask? How long does it take for the mist to disappear? Are my kids going to die before I can get a mask on them, if I have to put mine on first like the cabin crew instruct before the flight?

How often, when checking a fuselage for metal fatigue cracks, are cracks missed resulting in a depressurisation and/or hole in the cabin?

I'm also into motorcycling (road), so if anyone can post comparable safety statistics on the safety of motorcycling and traveling via commercial airlines that would be great.

I feel unbelievably stupid making this 'confession' and asking questions like these... am I alone?

Maybe I've just been watching too much Air Crash Investigation or too many clips of horrifying wing claps on YouTube...

Thanks.
mr_rodge is offline  
Old 9th Apr 2014, 14:02
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Join Date: Nov 2013
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Define normal...

I too have a fear of flying, infact have a thread in here about it. What I am learning is that you need to identify that fear before you can fix it. I have identified mt fear, but am yet to identify the root cause. I am on the right path.
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Old 9th Apr 2014, 14:04
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Join Date: Sep 2012
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No, you're not alone

Here's another PPL with a fresh IR(R), 130 hours, with a fear of heights and vast open spaces.

Similar thoughts are on the back of my mind sometimes when cruising at FL300+ as self-loading cargo. I have never actually got to hard numbers but am a firm believer in safety of the passenger flight, i.e. that the probability of getting into trouble there is comparable to being run over on a zebra crossing or killed by another driver on a motorway.

I love watching the Air Crash Investigation series and I think that if something like that happens in real life, it is nothing like in the movie. I can't help thinking that most episodes get dramatised as otherwise fewer people would be watching.

Happy landings,



/h88
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Old 9th Apr 2014, 14:38
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Join Date: Aug 2012
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Another PPL in the making here also with an established "fear of flying" especially in airliners.

I've rapidly come to realise that physical symptoms in me can manifest themselves as psychological anxiety. I found myself having a panic attack this winter just walking along the sidewalk, why? Because I had a cold and my chest was tight , the cold air made me feel breathless, just like panic attacks do. The physical caused the Psychological.

Extrapolate that to flying commercially. You've usually gotten up at a crap time, you haven't eaten properly, your tired , packed into a sardine can in less than optimal comfort. I find that the sensory overload of the people talking, babaies screaming , the loud engines and just the rush of air around my ears, the lack of a decent view outside, is in actuality what sets off my anxiety.

Put me in a bus under the same conditions and I'm fairly certain I'd panic too.
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Old 9th Apr 2014, 15:23
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Join Date: Mar 2014
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No flying fears here, but I do like being in control myself over someone else being in control. Although, I have 1 fear: I'm terrified when my wife drives the car...
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Old 10th Apr 2014, 09:50
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I only have a problem with heights on top of a ladder where i don't have something to grab hold off if something happens.
In aircraft i have no problem at all, flown gliders before i started my cpl and now i'm flying on the line with a very bit of SEP in between.

The safety on an airliner is the highest in the world, there are a lot more accidents with cars, trains, boats and motorcycles as well then there are accidents with airliners.
If something happens to an airliner anywhere in the world you would most likely hear about it, but if someone gets a traffic accident and gets killed you maybe hear about it in the local news only.

It's not very likely that someone would die if you have a rapid depressurization and you put your mask on first and then help the ones next to you.
The time of useful consciousness at FL400 is 15-20sec (according to wikipedia) this doesn't mean that afterwards you will die, you will stay longer conscious but you are no longer useful (sounds a bit hard but the hypoxia starts to kick in). A few years ago there was someone who fell out of the wheel well of a B777 (not pressurized of heated) close to London, when they investigated his body the conclusion was that he didn't die in the aircraft, he was in some kind of hibernation.

It off course happens that some cracks are missed on inspection which causes depressurization but it's a very small percentage, a lot more cracks are found and fixed.

I hope this helps you a bit,
flying apple is offline  
Old 10th Apr 2014, 12:13
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Does anyone know statistically how many engine failures occur during the lifetime of an average Lycoming? 1? 10? 0.01? I don't.
I don't know either but it is a pretty small number I think. You can also help yourself here by doing proper pre-flight and power checks on the thing you are flying before taking off. It's also easier to spot problems if you always fly the same aircraft.

If an airliner has to ditch, what are my chances of dying from the cold water, rather than the landing on calm seas, as is likely the case in a light aircraft?
You should look at it this way; an airliner being a multi-engine type will have a much lower chance of needing to ditch in the first place. If it does need to ditch THEN you can worry about surviving the landing, and THEN not drowning getting out, and THEN whether you would last long enough in the water to be rescued.

How difficult really is it, putting on a mask?
The longer you leave it: the harder it gets. Get yours on first and then you will be in a position to help someone else. You won't be of much use to your kids if you're unconscious.

I'm also into motorcycling (road), so if anyone can post comparable safety statistics on the safety of motorcycling and travelling via commercial airlines that would be great.
There have been a few threads comparing motorcycling to flying light aircraft and from what I remember the statistics are fairly similar. Airliners are very safe, as is driving. I think statistically walking on the pavement is actually more dangerous! Statistically though the NASA space shuttle was a very safe form of transport as well, with only 2 failures in 135 launches.

Personally I feel motorcycling is more dangerous than flying, and I'd be more worried about going into space then over the pond to the US. I also feel more aware of my height above the Earth when flying over water.

The statistics can look pretty good, but it's not really going to change the way you feel about doing something.

EDIT: I forgot to mention horse riding! You probably already know this as a biker, but horse riding is statistically much more dangerous than riding a motorbike.
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Old 10th Apr 2014, 12:26
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Humans are incredibly bad at judging objective risks. You can probably google the numbers - the ones I recall came from a US study - but scheduled aviation services are the lowest risk form of transport, bettering car transport by a couple of orders of magnitude. Sadly, private aviation is worse than driving, by something approaching an order of magnitude. The old story about the drive to the airport being the most dangerous sector doesn't hold up for non-commercial aviation. Motor cycle riding is off the scale. Statistically, it makes no sense at all for the OP to worry about jet transports, while being happy riding a motor cycle. I don't know the UK figures but the last Western Australian ones for bikes were horrendous: motor cycles are vastly over-represented in fatal accidents.

I'm sure most people these days are familiar with risk assessment formalisms which set out event likelihood versus severity. They are too frequently used as parts of meaningless tick the box corporate exercises but can, in fact, be useful in looking at where the biggest worries in life really reside.
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Old 10th Apr 2014, 13:23
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Thread drift.


If you don't like heights then stay very low.....


Lightning Mate is offline  
Old 10th Apr 2014, 14:06
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I have no fear of heights, mountains, high buildings , creaky rope suspension bridges across raging torrents, private flying, flying in airliners.

I guess that seems to make me abnormal.....
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Old 10th Apr 2014, 14:49
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I would suggest that a structural failure casing rapid depressurisation would be a very unlikely scenario. A much more common (but still VERY rare) cause of depressurisation on the type I fly (I suspect on others too) would be a slow depressurisation due to dual air bleed failure (air taken off the engines) or dual pack failure (aircon units). Generally it starts with an innocuous single failure, but the extra stress due to becoming the single source can sometimes send the other one into failure too. Now the aircraft will drive its outflow valve shut (where air from the cabin is exhausted) but now you are relying on seals to keep the pressurised air in the cabin.

The good thing about this scenario is you can beat the cabin down, so emergency descent circa 6000' per minute, the cabin climbs about 1500' per minute depending on the seals etc. on the aircraft. Generally you can get the aircraft below 10,000' (MSA depending) before the cabin hits 14,000. Not too bad on the ears, no fog, no masks for the pax. Also with dual bleed failures, we can get the APU lit in the descent and get some bleed air off that at 20,000' and restore normal ops.

A full on proper depressurisation is a well practiced procedure, sure you might blow the odd eardrum of someone with a bad cold, but it isn't going to kill you. A pilot friend of mine burst an eardrum flying, first thing she knew about it was a bit of blood out of her ear, not particularly painful for her apparently.
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Old 11th Apr 2014, 12:30
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Another fresh PPL holder with fear of heights here.
it is interesting I feel totally comfortable in GA 4seater. I love banking over 45, It stops being scary for me almost immediately, realizing "down is under the plane, not the green/brown thing outside window" My instructor took me to aerobatics plane on my 5th lesson when I was not even able to land the plane so I was able to try real spins as I was told classic 150/2 are a bit idiotproof (and forbiden for spins here anyway) Loved that immediately again and wanted to do this over and over..
on other hand I literally shits my pants of on a balcony at home, and it is just 5th floor, but balcony is tilted down a bit and railing ends bellow my waist starts my brain into illogical spin "I will fall over right now"


I never had any issues in airliner including turbulences, I was not scared to use air france trans atlantic flight back in 2012 (before my first GA flight) Now I know how easy is to do a stupid decision which just leads to sequence of another stupid decisions and having a lot of thinking about it during airliner flight.


The difference is just "I didn't know all that before" I think it is the same as with cars, till you are without licence and just passenger you don't know what is driver doing wrong or can do better and you just feel comfortable or not. Once you learned how to handle machine you can thing about what is someone else doing wrong
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Old 11th Apr 2014, 16:38
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Don't be afraid of flying, there's nothing to fear. The planet will not smite you for having the audacity to defeat gravity.


But, be very, very afraid of crashing and burning.

Avoid that happening to you and you'll be fine.
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Old 11th Apr 2014, 20:08
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Landing is nothing more than a controlled collision with a planet
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Old 12th Apr 2014, 18:18
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You might find this article that I stumbled on a while ago of interest



http://www.hampshireplans.co.uk/AOPA/article.pdf
KNIEVEL77 is online now  
Old 12th Apr 2014, 21:23
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Landing is nothing more than a controlled collision with a planet
Yes, aim at the ground but miss for as long as possible!

SD
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Old 12th Apr 2014, 23:47
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Stay in the middle of the air. Avoid the edges.

I was on holiday in one of those zillion floor hotels a couple of years ago, I was on the 23rd floor and I think it had around 40. It had a large balcony with a decent sized barrier. I'm fine looking out horizontally or downwards as long as it's not vertically down. Vertically down isn't pleasant, but the thing that really made me tilt was sticking my head over the balcony and looking upwards towards the top of the hotel. (If you're wondering why, I was trying to create an interesting camera shot...)That was serious weirdness time; luckily I had the sense to fall to my knees otherwise I think I may have been over the barrier.

Put me in an aircraft and spin me, loop me, no problem, love it. I can look straight down or up out of an open cockpit no problem. I think the major difference is in an aircraft you're sat down.
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Old 13th Apr 2014, 12:26
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I think the major difference is in an aircraft you're sat down.
Plus you take your floor with you. It's the rest of the world that goes upside down.
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Old 13th Apr 2014, 17:19
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Been flying for 47 years, and still uncomfortable on the edge of high places. Looking down on the poor folks among the ground-borne horde and those stuck in traffic overrides any concern about who is luckier, safer or more comfortable.
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Old 14th Apr 2014, 10:50
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Originally Posted by mr_rodge View Post
If an airliner has to ditch, what are my chances of dying from the cold water, rather than the landing on calm seas, as is likely the case in a light aircraft?

How often do rapid depressurisations occur, with the fog in the cabin and oxygen masks having to be donned?

When a depressurisation does occur, what % of people suffer hearing damage? How many people will end up unconscious? How difficult really is it, putting on a mask? How long does it take for the mist to disappear? Are my kids going to die before I can get a mask on them, if I have to put mine on first like the cabin crew instruct before the flight?
there were around 50 losses of cabin pressure in 2013 (from AVHerald). Have a search and read about them on that website. I believe there was only a single one where people had any problems with their ears, and that was cabin crew. No reported issues with masks. On most the masks didn't deploy. No-one unconscious.
How often, when checking a fuselage for metal fatigue cracks, are cracks missed resulting in a de pressurisation and/or hole in the cabin?
None in 2013 that I've seen. There are a few involving cockpit window problems, and one involving a cargo door failure. Most were to do with problems with the pressurisation systems (bleed air / air con packs).
I'm also into motorcycling (road), so if anyone can post comparable safety statistics on the safety of motorcycling and traveling via commercial airlines that would be great.
Direct stats don't work - as aircraft stats are in hours, motor bikes are in miles. However as someone else has posted, some say that small GA has similar risk levels (although different causes) to motor bikes. Commercial Airtravel is CONSIDERABLY safer than motor biking. Per mile, it is by far the safest form of transport (safer even than trains).

Maybe I've just been watching too much Air Crash Investigation or too many clips of horrifying wing claps on YouTube...
Might be better not to look at AVHerald then...
However what you will see is that almost all issues are handled well with no serious outcomes, and the number of issues compared to the number of flights is tiny. [/QUOTE]
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