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13th Dec 2016

This is the safest place to sit in a plane to survive a crash

It can make a difference.

Mike Wright

It’s a morbid thought that can flash across the mind as you board a plane.

Would my choice of seat make any difference if the worst came to the worst? Then there’s the cold comfort that if that unimaginable scenario arose, it’d probably be a pretty academic question.

And the general consensus of the aviation industry would seem to back up that rationale.

The line from the US Federal Aviation Administration is: “It’s an age-old question. There’s just no way to say.”

However a painstaking 2007 study by Popular Mechanics says differently. The publication sifted through data from every commercial jet crash since 1971 in search of the answer. This is what they came up with:

“The funny thing about all those expert opinions: 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 analysed by anyone curious enough to look and willing to do the statistical drudgework.”

We’re not sure if this makes us feel any better…