The safest place to sit on a plane

You’ve heard the comments that it doesn’t matter which seat you sit in on a plane in case of a crash, right? Well, conventional wisdom is apparently based on the assumption that if the plane crashes, it will get all explodified and you will, therefore, be all deadified. But rather than accept conventional wisdom, some smarties (people, not the candies) at Popular Mechanics looked at the hard data and figured where the safest seat in a plane is if there is a crash.

In the wake of nearly 200 passenger deaths in a Brazilian airliner accident, we take an exclusive look at 36 years’ worth of NTSB reports and seating charts. The best way to live through a disaster in the sky? Move to the back of the Airbus.

Well crap. The authors may be smarties, but they suck at telling jokes and stories – they give away the ending in the first paragraph. I guess that can’t be helped now. Let’s go on and see why that is.

The funny thing about all those expert opinions [that there is no safe seat in a crash]: They’re not really based on hard data about actual airline accidents. A look at real-world crash stats, however, suggests that the farther back you sit, the better your odds of survival. Passengers near the tail of a plane are about 40 percent more likely to survive a crash than those in the first few rows up front.

That’s the conclusion of an exclusive Popular Mechanics study that examined every commercial jet crash in the United States, since 1971, that had both fatalities and survivors. The raw data from these 20 accidents has been languishing for decades in National Transportation Safety Board files, waiting to be analyzed by anyone curious enough to look and willing to do the statistical drudgework.

Real numbers. Real analysis. Real work. They explain the survivor numbers and how they arrived at the conclusion. Good news for us cheapskates that always end up in the back because we bought the $27 ticket 39 weeks ago over when we heard we were going to travel.

[tags]The safest seat on the plane, Air travel, Safety, Popular Mechanics[/tags]