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A380 safety…

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  • A380 safety…

    As there have been no crashes or major incidents including casualties yet, is the A380 the safest? Or is this due to the small amount of planes produced…

  • #2
    An interesting way to account for small sample size is to make the following experiment.
    Say that the very next flight is a fatal accident. What would be the safety metric yet?
    This can be used for aircraft types, countries, airlines, etc...

    As an invented example, say that a small airline A had zero fatal accidents in the XXI century, while big airline B had 3.
    Airline A has a rate of zero fatal accidents per million flights, while airline B has more than 0.
    Is airline A safer?
    Let's put some more numbers and say that airline A flew 30 millions flight i the XXI century, making a rate of 0.3 fatal accidents per million flights, while airline A flew 1 million in the same period.
    What if each airline had a fatal accident in the very next flight?
    Airline A will see its rate growing from 0 to 1 fatal accident per million flights.
    Airline B will see its rate growing from 0.3 to 0.333 fatal accidents per million flights.

    While this doesn't prove that airline A is not as safe as airline B, it certainly shows that we cannot say that airline A is safer merely because its rate today is better than that of airline B.

    When talking about airline types, another thing to take into account is what did the airplane itself had to do with the accident.
    For example, the 777 had 3 fatal accidents: MH 17, MH 370 and Asiana 214.

    MH 17 was shot down and the fat would most likely have been the same no matter the aircraft type. I would not consider this one "a 777 accident" for the sake of evaluating the 777's safety.
    MH 370 was most likely a murdercie and, again, the outcome would have been the same whatever the type.
    Asiana 214 took a lot of bad piloting to make it crash, and actually the plane protected its occupants quite well while cartwheeling down the runway with all but 3 escaping alive (and 2 of those 3 died because they were not wearing their seatbelt during landing). However, the question is what would have happened if it was a different type, and the answer is that if it was an Airbus with its more stupid-pilot-proof fly-by-wire control laws, the accident would have likely not happened, the airplane would have said "I don't care if you want to keep the engines at idle, I am going to add thrust nonetheless" and kept the plane at a flyable speed. So I would count this as a 777 accident.

    Of course, you could go the other way and think of accidents that were not fatal despite rather than thanks to the plane. And there you have BA 38 where both engines rolled back uncommanded shortly before landing. The pilots were able to extract every bit of energy available to glide and reach the airport making a survivable crash 1000 ft short of the runway. While the airframe once again can be credited with protecting the occupants during the crash, had this rollback happened merely 10 seconds earlier, chances are that they would have crashed in a populated area killing all or most on board plus several on the ground. So how should one take into account this accident when considering the safety of the 777? I am not sure. (and another complicating factor is that the real cause was related to the engines which are a buyer's option and which are available in other types, not just the 777).

    Bottom line: Flight safety is not an exact science and data can be interpreted in different ways. As for your specific question, I would say that there is not enough evidence / data to call the A380 a safer airplane than most other types. While it currently has 0 fatal accident per million flights, with under 1 million flights flown so far a fatal accident in the near future would instantly send it from "best it class" to "worst in class".

    Take a look at this:

    --- Judge what is said by the merits of what is said, not by the credentials of who said it. ---
    --- Defend what you say with arguments, not by imposing your credentials ---


    • #3
      thank you for that