Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fly The Friendly Skies

AT least once a day on the CNN Headline News Channel (I watch the Glenn Beck Show) I catch a Aeroflot commercial. The commercial extols the merits of flying with the russkies but I just get the willies thinking about some underpaid Moscow airframe mechanic slugging down a tin of shoe polish as he works on a jet that I will board in the near future.

According to this site, there have been 127 crashes of Aeroflot aircraft since they started commercial flight operations in 1953. That's right, 127 crashes.

Compare that number with:
United Airlines - 21 crashes; Trans World Airlines - 18 crashes; Pan American Airlines - 17 crashes; BOAC - 9 crashes; Continental Airlines - 7 crashes.

You may think that I am piling on the poor roosians by comparing them with modern US and European airlines. Well, let's take a look at some not so well know airlines and see how they fare...
Ghana Airways - 2 crashes; Malaysia Airlines - 3 crashes; Philippine Airlines - 21 crashes; Xiamen Airlines - 1 crash.

Of course this all should be viewed in light of passenger miles for it to make any sense at all, but this is kinda fun anyway.

The site, Air, also lists the different types of aircraft that have been involved in crashes, and the fatalities.

Airbus A300 - 11 crashes between 1983 and 2003, a total of 1,411 deaths.
Airbus A310 - 7 crashes between 1992 and 2006, a total of 645 deaths.
Boeing 707 - 56 crashes between 1961 and 2005,a total of 3,097 deaths.
Boeing 747 - 34 crashes between 1974 and 2004, a total of 3,485 deaths.
Douglas DC-6 - 40 crashes between 1951 and 1999, a total of 1,585 deaths.
Douglas DC-7 - 15 crashes between 1956 and 1979, a total of 690 deaths.
Lockheed L-1011 - 5 crashes between 1972 and 1986, a total of 553 deaths.
Lockheed L-1049 - 15 crashes between 1956 and 1965, a total of 668 deaths.
McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 - 19 crashes between 1973 and 2004, a total of 1,434 deaths.
McDonnell-Douglas MD-8 - 17 crashes between 1981 and 2007, a total of 976 deaths.
Ilyushin IL-62 - 12 crashes between 1972 and 2002, a total of 737 deaths.
Ilyushin IL-76 - 19 crashes between 1988 and 2007, a total of 844 deaths.
Tupolev TU-134 - 27 crashes between 1971 and 2007, a total of 1,587 deaths.
Tupolev TU-154 - 29 crashes between 1973 and 2006, a total of 2,682 deaths.
Yakovlev YAK-40 - 21 crashes between 1972 and 2004, a total of 634 deaths.
Yakovlev YAK-42 - 3 crashes between 1982 and 2003, a total of 229 deaths.

Nothing in these figures indicates whether the aircraft or pilot error was at fault.

Now for the the Airplane O'Doom awards!

First Prize - the Yakovlev YAK-42, while it is true that there are only three crashes for this airframe, every single crash killed every single living soul on the ship. It achieved what it's predecessor strove mightily for but failed.

Second Prize - the Yakovlev YAK-4o, the first nine crashes killed every breathing thing within the fuselage. Out of 21 crashes, only 3 flights had any survivors at all. The YAK-40, affectionately known as Yakovlev's Revenge, and the Flying Barbecue, was evaluated by Japanese Self Defense Forces when considering to re-establish the Divine Wind Defense Initiative.

Now, the actual flight safety of these ships. Here is the site that rates the airframes for safety.
The craft with the lowest number of crashes per passenger mile is the Saab 340. Right behind it at #2 is the McDonnell Douglas MD-80. Positions #3, 4, 5 and 6 are all Boeing planes, the 767, the 757, the 727 and the 737.

Lowest rated? The Aerospatiale Concorde. Even though it had only one fatal flight, it flew so few times (80,000 flights) that it received this distinction. In comparison, the #5 and #6 craft (727 and 737) flew a combined 146 million flights with 93 flights that involved a fatality of some kind.

Dan wanted the DC-10 thrown into the mix, so I did two McDonnell-Douglas aircraft, the DC-10 and the MD-8.

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