When any event happens with a plane, the company is generally liable for the injuries and deaths that occur. The recent San Francisco crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 killed few of the 307 onboard.
Still, many fear flying. That is understandable. Archie Bunker, the fictional grouchy father, on the old TV show “All in the Family” was once confronted by his son in law he called “Meathead,” with statistics showing air travel is much safer than driving. Archie famously retorted, “That may be so, but nobody ever fell 35,000 feet out of a De Soto!”
While flying has always been safer than driving, based on miles traveled and deaths, the few crashes on planes proved fatal for the majority involved. Between 1962 and 1981, for instance, 54 percent of people in plane crashes were killed.
But a lot has improved. Fire retardant chemicals and materials help to prevent fires and smoke inhalation after an incident. Radar and traffic control is worlds better than in the past and allow pilots to see through fog and storms. That is why few planes crash into mountains or each other anymore. Of course, the death rate on those types of collisions is 100%. The current planes have been designed with better exits, stronger fuselages, and the crews are better trained than once was the case. Most accidents now happen below 200 mph on a runway and can be survived. Captains are quite experienced logging a lifetime in a particular couple of jumbo jets. We all recall the 2009 US Airways jet that had a bird strike and heroic Capt. Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger landed that plane elegantly, without a single death, on the river creating the so-called "Miracle on the Hudson."
Terrorism has taken lives tragically, but they are usually not classified as air accidents. Current numbers indicate about two accidental deaths worldwide for every 100 million commercial flight passengers.
The drive to the airport is the most dangerous part of your trip. You are many times more likely to die driving to the airport than on a flight. That being said, it is odd that climbing into a pressurized aluminum tube, seven miles in the sky, moving at 600 mph in weather that is 65 degrees below zero could ever be considered as routine as it now seems.