How Do People Survive Plane Crashes?

Since Wilbur and Orville Wright first took to the skies in 1903, virtually everyone who has ridden in a plane has considered what might happen if the thing falls out of the sky. What are the odds of surviving a plane crash? Although more than 40 percent of passengers report fear of being involved in a plane crash, the odds are in our favor. Statistically speaking, a person would have to take a flight every day for 55,000 years before encountering a fatal accident. You are literally more likely to be killed by a falling coconut.

So You're Sayin' There's a Chance

In 2016, 325 people died in 19 airplane crashes worldwide. That might seem like a lot, but more than 2,500 left-handed people are killed every year from using equipment meant for right-handed people.

Despite big-budget Hollywood films' depictions of plane crashes, flying is actually the safest mode of transportation. In fact, the odds of a plane crash are one for every 1.2 million flights, with odds of dying one in 11 million. Your chances of dying in a car or traffic accident are one in 5,000.

Even if you're reading this on an airplane while you're rocketing toward the ground, your odds of surviving are quite good. Among passengers aboard crashed planes, 95.7 percent survive. And according to the National Transportation Safety Board, even passengers of the most devastating airplane crashes survive at a rate of 76 percent.

Despite its safety, air travel malfunctions can cause passenger distress, and on rare occasion, result in a crash. So what can you do to prepare yourself, if anything? What boosts our odds for survival? And what happens when a plane actually does crash? Buckle in for these videos: a worst-case scenario survival guide.

Morbidly curious about crashes? Check out "Plane Crash: The Forensics of Aviation Disasters" by George Bibel. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

10 Ways to Survive a Plane Crash

Edited by Ben Bowman August 2, 2017

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.