The past year has been a particularly distressing one for all those who are scared to fly, following the two Malaysian aircrafts and an Indonesian AirAsia flight crashes in 2014. About 30 percent of adults are scared of flying and 73 percent of those are frightened by the possibility of technical or mechanical faults causing the plane to crash. Despite the slim statistical chances of a commercial airplane crashing, the fear of flight remains one of the biggest modern phobias.
While the fear of flying may not be entirely eliminated, there is some good news for those who are afraid to fly. The app “Am I going down?” was created by Nic Johns and Julie Postlethwaite and aims to calm the nervous flyers by letting them know how unlikely it is for their plane to crash. It does this by calculating the probability of an airplane going down based on a distance, airplane model, and airport destinations.
Although the app shows that the chances of a plane crashing are very slim, the app’s calculations are not random ‘feel good’ statistics. To calculate the probability of a plane crashing, the app draws the data from Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for the statistics on plane crashes and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for the information about the airports.
An example of the app’s calculation shows that that the flight from San Francisco International Airport to London Heathrow on an American Airlines flight, Airbus A330, has 1 in 3,646,151 chances of crashing, adding that the traveller would have to get on this flight every day, for 9,989 years to be involved in a crash. For a nervous flyer, this might make a tremendous difference in how the traveller experiences the flight. So far, the app evaluates over 10 million routes around the world.
By adding a statistical example to the well-known, "flying is the safest way to travel", the application aims to speak to logic in order to dampen the fear of a plane crash.
The app might be an interesting exercise in statistic improbabilities for those who are not frightened by flying, but whether those who are scared will find this information comforting or further stressful, remains to be seen.