Air travel is one of the most popular methods for travelers to quickly go from point A to point B, especially if there’s bodies of water or whole continents separating the two. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 646 million passengers take to skies each year and hurtle at 500 mph through the air to reach their destination. However, the tragic plane crashes that have been covered by the media over the past year have awakened a fear of flying among many. Crash landings are unfortunate and often fatal, but this doesn’t mean that any travelers should start cancelling their plane tickets. Below we’ll look at the top ways the airline industry makes sure that air travel is still among the safest methods for traveling.

Better Airplane Designs

Since the Wright brothers first invented the airplane in 1903, the flying vessel has made great strides of advancement with the purpose of keeping passengers safe. Commercial airlines have kept meticulous records for the nearly one billion flight hours over the past half century, which means engineers have a wealth of data to improve airplane designs. Aerospace engineers and plane manufacturers are continually using flight information to make design changes. For instance, no matter how cramped, airplane seats are now built with head protection and can withstand 16 times the force of gravity!

Advanced Cockpit Technology

Airplane technology has advanced dramatically over the last couple decades to make it easier for pilots to maneuver these large vessels safely through even severe weather conditions. The responsibility being placed on the pilots’ shoulders to steer is virtually obsolete because most controls are operated by technology for most of the flight. Planes flying today are equipped with turbulence detection programming to accurately predict and warn pilots on the intensity of turbulence. Most planes also have technology that communicates with other planes to make certain there’s little chance of a collision.

Rigorous Pilot Training

Getting behind the wheel of a car only requires basic knowledge of driving laws and mastery of maneuvering in a short driving test. Jumping into the cockpit of a plane requires much more extensive training. Pilots are required to go through rigorous training programs in flight school before receiving their flying license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Some airlines also mandate at least two years of college education in the pilot screening process too. Since many pilots are also retired members of the Air Force, it’s safe to say that there’s minimal room for error or reckless flying.

Air Traffic Control

Drivers don’t have eyes in the sky to watch the road and look out for warning signs of an accident, but pilots do. Thanks to air traffic control, there are several highly trained eyes that are watching closely to help pilots from take-off through the smooth landing. Air traffic controllers rotate in shifts 24 hours a day, seven days a week to guarantee that someone is available to track the planes, give pilots instructions, provide landing clearance, and answer questions about flight conditions. Pilots are never given full responsibility for maintaining passenger safety alone.

Overall, statistics show that flying is still safer in comparison to driving, riding the bus, and even walking. The death risk for passengers on commercial airlines is just one in 45 million flights. That means that you could hypothetically fly daily for 123,000 years without encountering an accident! Although air travel may be sometimes questioned when tragedy strikes, airline safety is actually continually improving and making fatal accidents much rarer.