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2011: Record Year For Airline Safety

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the tsa-rushes-to-take-credit dept.

Transportation 144

smitty777 writes "Unless something bad happens in the next two days, we are on track for having a new record for airline safety. The new record of one death for every 7.1 million passengers beats the 2004 record of one to every 6.4m. The WSJ also notes: 'Another low is the total number of passenger deaths; as of today that number stands at 401. Though it was lower in 2004, when 344 passengers were killed in commercial aviation accidents, that year saw 30% fewer passengers as well as far fewer flights. Western-built planes have fared best, with one major crash per 3 million flights, the best number since the International Air Transport Association began tracking crashes in the 1940s. When factoring in other types of airliners, the crash rate is about two per million flights. We are also in the midst of the longest period without a fatal airliner accident in modern aviation; nobody has died in an airliner since an Oct. 13 propeller plane crash in Papua New Guinea. The previous record was 61 days in 1985.' Russia, and counties linked to it, are the only areas that saw a drop. 2011 also seemed to break the record for unusual airline travel events as well."

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144 comments

JINX! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38539934)

Or... foreshadowing in storyteller's parlance.

Silence of The Lamb Penises (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38539946)

Ever duct tape your penis backwards like in Silence of The Lambs where the guy tucks his penis beneath him? I wonder if anyone doing this can actually reach their anus and thus penetrate themselves.

Re:Silence of The Lamb Penises (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38540400)

I can't imagine why I'm responding to this troll post, and I hate myself for knowing this, but yes, there is a guy who actually managed to fuck himself in the ass. I'll provide no links, but there is a video on the internet, if you search hard enough you can find it. Any doctor would tell you in a heartbeat that this is physically impossible, but the video is hard to dismiss.

Re:Silence of The Lamb Penises (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38541164)

No, but I've seen a form of duct tape on large commercial airplane wings. Really. It's some really strong duct tape.

Re:Silence of The Lamb Penises (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38541224)

nice (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38539956)

im sure we can attribute this to the TSA, right? right?

Re:nice (0)

danbuter (2019760) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540114)

I'm pretty sure the number of people who fly is down thanks to them not wanting to deal with the TSA, so it is indirectly responsible. Less people flying = less planes in the air = less chance of accidents.

Re:nice (4, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540298)

You should note it was based on per people flying.

And very, very, few people don't fly because of the TSA. serious, it MIGHT be 500 hundred people per year, maybe.

Also, more people flew this year then last year.

Re:nice (2)

ShnowDoggie (858806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540662)

I know several people who now drive rather than fly due to TSA. I guess that If they were to go far enough they would fly, but on other trips where driving can a option, but a longer one, they drive. I am sure the number of flight seats not taken due to TSA is far more than 500. Added to privacy issues are increased costs due to security requirements. This too will reduce the amount of flying people are doing.

On side note: You are correct that this is based on air travelers worldwide. I would wager that TSA has more influence in the US than the rest of the world. And I wonder what other changes in overall patterns have occurred. Are there more flights outside of the United States now? Less? Are people taking more longer flights and less shorter flights? Are certain kinds of carriers flying more?

Re:nice (2)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541844)

The TSA has some influence outside the US, in the sense that I'll gladly pay more to fly a route which doesn't include the US. (As a side-effect, and given the hub-based nature of airlines, I'm also paying more to not fly with US airlines).

Re:nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38540720)

[I]t MIGHT be 500 hundred people per year, maybe.

Woo-hoo! I'm part of the 0.2%!

Re:nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38541338)

I am as well. I only fly when it is for work, and it is out of state. I never fly within the state of california anymore.. I used to all the time.

Re:nice (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542334)

[I]t MIGHT be 500 hundred people per year, maybe.

Woo-hoo! I'm part of the 0.2%!

1/(500*100) = 0.00002 or .002%!

Re:nice (2)

danbuter (2019760) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540808)

I'd love to find out where you got this statistic.

Re:nice (4, Informative)

HBI (604924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540846)

And very, very, few people don't fly because of the TSA. serious, it MIGHT be 500 hundred people per year, maybe.

That sounds like a hard statistic.

Also, more people flew this year then last year.

That's probably true, but the statistics aren't available yet from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics [bts.gov] , so you can't prove it.

I can, however, prove that the population is larger this year than last year, by about 2 million. I can also demonstrate that the population [census.gov] has increased from 281.5 million in 2000 to about 311 million this year, over a 10% increase. There has been no commensurate increase in airline passengers. So your entire point is demonstrably false.

Re:nice (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541066)

The TSA might turn 500 a year away, but most of the decline it's responsible for decide not to fly in the first place. Some explicitly because they hate dealing with the TSA, some also to boycott the whole thing, and some simply because the TSA related expenses drove the cost of flying above the threshold price for their decision or the added time made driving faster.

Re:nice (2)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541238)

I have cut down on my flying since the TSA got so invasive. It's definitely a factor when choosing the hassle of flying over doing something else.

And I'm sure I'm far from the only one.

Re:nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38541376)

I used to fly between DC and NY but my last 10 straight trips have been on Amtrak. DCA is actually a really easy stress free airport to get in and out of so my reasons are not directly related to the TSA. The constant afternoon delays leaving NY and hassle getting to and from midtown from the airports compared to the train which goes right to Penn Station were my reasons.

Re:nice (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542110)

The TSA might not discourage many people from flying within the US (although some people who used to fly short hop commuter airlines probably drive or take the train now), but they do discourage people from flying to or through the US.

I'll go to great lengths to avoid connecting through the US because it involves a minimum 40 minute trip to the special room.

Re:nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542418)

I think you're a bit off on your (uncited) statistics. I fly. I have no choice sometimes. However, I DO have a choice other times, and those times, I don't fly--and it is 100% because of not wanting to deal with the TSA. Don't misunderstand--airlines suck and their abusive attitudes and crammed planes don't help, but they can be dealt with using a little creativity. Thugs masquerading as "law enforcement" acting "for your safety" are hard to deal with and even harder to stomach. The airline industry will be so much better off the day the TSA is abolished.

Re:nice (3, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541770)

I doubt many people are choosing to drive over flying due to 'liquids and gels' rules, groping and the like. However, they are probably doing it over time concerns. If it's an hour to drive to the airport and park, 30 minutes to check in, 30 minutes to get through security, 30 minutes standing at a packed gate area, 30 minutes to board and 45 minutes on the tarmac for 60 minutes in the air, well then a four hour drive with a bag of doritos between your legs and a big gulp in the cupholder doesn't seem so bad...

Re:nice (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542684)

A 60 minute flight is more like 8 hours in the car...

Re:nice (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540208)

    HAHAHAHAHA!

    Nope.

    But this year they did spend another $8.1 billion dollars. Or as of May 2011 it was $835.9 billion [nationalpriorities.org] . Or about $281 million dollars for each person who died in the 9/11 attacks. That doesn't include the defense budget used to bomb the shit out of the middle east.

    $8.1 billion, and the only thing I've gotten out of it was felt up at the airport. And I didn't even get a "happy ending" with it... Come on, they make the privacy rooms for a reason, do it right.

Re:nice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38540564)

Congratulations, Paul Christoforo. You've won... a new car!

Re:nice (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540660)

Wrong person, wrong story.

Please return your computer to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Re:nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38540742)

In fairness, the attack was attempting to kill over 50,000 people. The occupancy of those buildings was often closer to 75,000. That's why the gov'ts gone overboard trying to prevent it from happening again.

Re:nice (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541268)

If you're going to change it to their intended toll, get it right.

    The WTC towers were capable of falling over onto Wall Street. It wasn't just the buildings, it was the collateral damage. If all 4 planes were targeted for the WTC, Pentagon, and White House, and they had been as destructive as believed, and all the required people were in the right places (Bush was out of town) that would have crippled the US economy, military, and executive branch of the government.

    The incurred death toll, including those who died due to lack of infrastructure later, would have been millions.

    The stated goal from bin Laden was the destruction of the capitalist monster that is the United States. He wanted 330 million people dead, regardless of our position or purpose in this country.

    In recent history, Russia, Germany, and Japan also wanted the same for us, as well as all kinds of fringe groups. Even some Americans [wikipedia.org] want death and destruction for us, and have attempted it.

    Anyone who's familiar with history knows that there's always some group that wants to kill some other group. Luckily, most don't have the resources to accomplish it. Those who do have the resources [wikipedia.org] usually realize that such actions will result in mutually assured destruction.

    I don't have sleepless nights worrying about terrorists killing me. The odds I'll be in a fatal car accident are higher. I avoid what I can, but if something happens that is beyond my control, it will happen.

Re:nice (5, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541910)

The stated goal from bin Laden was the destruction of the capitalist monster that is the United States. He wanted 330 million people dead, regardless of our position or purpose in this country.

Except for no, that really wasn't his goal, well at least on not any realistic time scale. His operated on the "think locally, act globally" scale. His real objective was to drag the US into a war in the middle east in order to use their presence as a pretext to grabbing power in the middle east, which is why the bulk of Al Qaeda messages were about events in the middle east and not the US(they would always make anti-US statements because that is what grabbed media attention and helped their recruitment numbers)

And to a certain extent he was right, the attack provoked the US into wars in the middle east, but then again predicting Bush would do something stupid is sort of like predicting the sun will come up tomorrow, it doesn't take a whole lot of insight.

However his prediction that most of the muslim world would rally behind him was deeply flawed. They weren't exactly happy with the US, but sort of realized that what Bin Laden was doing was throwing a rock at a hornets nest then jumping in front of the hornets to show how much they are protecting everyone. While people get pissed at the hornets, they are also not very happy with the dude that threw the rock.

Re:nice (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542172)

"The stated goal from bin Laden was the destruction of the capitalist monster that is the United States. He wanted 330 million people dead, regardless of our position or purpose in this country."

Hm. It seems a rather large leap from destroying "the capitalist monster that is the United States" to "330 million people dead, regardless of [their] position or purpose."

The US has destroyed several democracies and a few dictatorships without killing everyone (or even very many) ordinary citizens.

Re:nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542592)

Umm... anyway, they flew (past tense, as in it actually happened) two planes into the WTC, which typically has fifty thousand people inside. This isn't changing anything, it is the reality that almost happened.

You are unlikely to be killed by terrorism, but if it happens again, just like before, it will affect you again. Maybe this time you'll be unemployed for two years.

  I am not advocating that the TSA is the right way to go, I think it's a huge waste and an incredible inconvenience. I am, however, suggesting that you get the details of 9/11 straight if you ever seriously intend to get the gov't to loosen up. As long as you keep arguing that all 9/11 was was a big fluke car pileup where three thousand people died you'll never convince them to change their minds.

Re:nice (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541284)

What do you mean "overboard"? You mean "invade Iraq and let Binladen go for a decade"?

The government went overboard because the people running it want to spend $TRILLIONS on something that people didn't want to until the government convinced them it would protect them from another 9/11/2001 planebombing. And then going overboard killed many more Americans, cost far more money, and actually destroyed our freedoms far more than the planebombings did.

FWIW, I'm from NYC, and I approve this message.

Re:nice (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540468)

Well maybe?
You should work out the numbers and see if your hypothesis is correct or not.

Except for jumping to a quick conclusion. Analysis Airports that are under the TSA and ones that are not, compare fatalities with comparable aircraft. Check with other countries that might have similar rules for aircraft safety.

You can go half cock and just give an opinion based on your like or dislike of an issue, or you can use Science and Math to test you opinion with facts.

If you are right cool, if you are wrong hey thats cool too, it is all part of Science!

I don't think so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38541310)

No. It's attributable so improved training of pilots and more automation in the cockpit.

Re:nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38541862)

Yes...by all means, let's not give any credit to the engineers who design and service the airplanes, the ground crews that maintain the airports and air traffic control systems or the pilots that have safely piloted their planes throughout the year.

It's clearly the lack of bombs and hijackings that are making the difference which is why we need even more invasive machines at TSA checkpoints. The TSA mandate should be updated to account for the fact that too few Americans receive their regular screenings for colon cancer.

How does it compare (5, Interesting)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38539962)

How does it compare to rail/car/ship travel?

Re:How does it compare (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38540106)

More importantly how does it compare to reading slashdot? How may nerds have died from being trolled or the shock of goatse?

Re:How does it compare (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540126)

Quite favorably, auto fatalities are down, at least in the US, but they still outnumber airline fatalities for the entire world by a huge margin.

One of the big problems with the TSA is that they scare people into taking more dangerous forms of transportation out of a misplaced sense of fear. Terrorism is something to be fought and prevented, but in the grand scheme of things more people die of injuries from car crashes every year than terrorism.

Re:How does it compare (5, Insightful)

tylernt (581794) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540248)

One of the big problems with the TSA is that they scare people into taking more dangerous forms of transportation out of a misplaced sense of fear

I don't think my fear of the TSA or the government it serves is misplaced. I'd say it's pretty well-founded.

Re:How does it compare (0)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540574)

One of the big problems with the TSA is that they scare people into taking more dangerous forms of transportation out of a misplaced sense of fear.

Don't worry. If Obama wins the election they'll be setting up random grope-points on the highways next year; can't risk terrorists hijacking a car and crashing it into a school full of kids.

Re:How does it compare (2)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541320)

What makes you think random grope-points won't be set up if someone else wins the election? The other guys are the ones who got us into this grope regime - Obama's to blame for keeping it going. The rest would just escalate it, as they always have.

Re:How does it compare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38540888)

Quite favorably, auto fatalities are down, at least in the US, but they still outnumber airline fatalities for the entire world by a huge margin.

Total deaths does not make any difference. The 1 serious crash per 3M flights or 1 per 500K flights is comparable to the number of fatal car accidents per how many trips? They don't usually give comparable statistics.

Re:How does it compare (3, Insightful)

Sneezer (131771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540168)

> How does it compare to rail/car/ship travel?

Airplanes are much, much faster.

"Hello, airplanes? Yeah, it's blimps. You win!"

Re:How does it compare (2)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540256)

Airplanes are much, much faster.

Except when they're slower than bicycles [usatoday.com] !

Re:How does it compare (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540332)

At first glance one would think that the airplane itself is slower then a bike. However, the person flying got to the airport an hour early (as is customary, to get through security), thus giving the bikes an hour's head start (on a trip that only takes a bike 90 minutes). The title of that article is very misleading. But the article itself is interesting.

Re:How does it compare (3, Insightful)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540754)

If velocity is distance divided by time, and you're using the curb-to-curb distance and the curb-to-curb time (from the time you enter the airport to the time you exit the airport at the other end), then airplanes are not so quick for shorter distances.

This is what makes high speed rail faster than airplanes for distances up to about 400 miles.

The original question was, "How does [flying] compare to rail/car/ship travel?" And the answer given was, "Airplanes are much, much faster." But that is not always true.

Re:How does it compare (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540346)

I couldn't help but note the cyclist didn't have any luggage.

Re:How does it compare (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540422)

I couldn't help but note the cyclist didn't have any luggage.

When landing the airplane passenger didn't either.

Re:How does it compare (2)

rts008 (812749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541446)

LOL! Valid point.
You just can't win anymore.
Since I was 'relieved' of my luggage three times in a row flying, had damaged property from luggage searches, etc., I have gotten in the habit of FedEx'ing my luggage.
However, now that I fly with only a book to read, I have been flagged for more searches because I'm flying with no luggage.....SHEESH!

Great (4, Insightful)

assertation (1255714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38539978)

Now that they have safety nailed down, maybe in 2012 they can do something about forcing passengers to choose between getting groped or irradiated.

Re:Great (1)

acidradio (659704) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540164)

Hey look, you can't have it both ways. You can either get there quickly and safely... but have to be groped by some sweaty "government employee"; or you can ride in comfort grope free... but gamble with dying in a fiery inferno. The choice is up to you.

Re:Great (2)

assertation (1255714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540222)

but I got there quickly and safely before the TSA and W Bush

Re:Great (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541228)

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542000)

That hijacking was back in the era when passengers and crew were told "let the hijackers do their thing, chill in Cuba for a bit, and you'll be fine."

After the attacks (and in the case of flight 93, during), the general public became convinced that there is nothing to lose by using whatever force is necessary to subdue any hijacking attempts. You can say that September 11 ruined the plans of everyone who has a hardon to hijack a plane just to get to Cuba. No TSA necessary.

Re:Great (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541912)

but I got there quickly and safely before the TSA and W Bush

Why just W? What about Obama (under whom the enhanced scanners were introduced), or all the Congressmen who argued for it too?

I'm no Bush fan, but most of the current administration, and most of Congress (including most Democrats) are culpable in this as well.

Re:Great (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540252)

Hey look, you can't have it both ways. You can either get there quickly and safely... but have to be groped by some sweaty "government employee"; or you can ride in comfort grope free... but gamble with dying in a fiery inferno. The choice is up to you.

That would be true only if the groping or scanners were proven to be effective. Even if they were 100% effective at preventing someone from sneaking explosives onboard, there are many other ways to disrupt air travel and cause widespread panic (you only need to breach security at one airport anywhere in the country to breach security at all airports, you can hide explosives in lightly (if at all) inspected catering food, why take down a plane when you can blow up the security checkpoint with the same effect, if you sit at the end of the runway and hit a plane with an RPG, you'll shut down air travel even if it doesn't take down the plane, etc).

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542146)

There were explosives already smuggled onto a number of airplanes. Explosives that will pass any xray/CT scanner without triggering any alarms. How do I know this? From the news, regular news.

Re:Great (1)

Beerdood (1451859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540268)

I choose option B - not getting groped, and I'll take that risk of dying in a fiery inferno. Could you direct me to an airline or airport where this option is available? Oh wait...

Re:Great (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540352)

I choose option B - not getting groped, and I'll take that risk of dying in a fiery inferno. Could you direct me to an airline or airport where this option is available? Oh wait...

http://www.cracked.com/blog/if-awesome-lunatics-ran-airlines/ [cracked.com]

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38540632)

Only an idiot thinks the choice is between scanners/patdowns, or nothing, and thinks that there is nothing inbetween that is as unobtrusive as possible and does the job.

Re:Great (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541174)

Actually, you can be perfectly safe and grope free. The TSA hasn't caught even one person in the whole time they've been active. However small it might be, evidence suggests that unregulated and unlicensed X-Ray generators used by unqualified personnel carry a greater risk than terrorism these days.

Re:Great (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540318)

    I pick groped every time. They're asking me more often why I refuse the radiation. X-rays, microwaves, whatever, I'm not going to stand in your uncertified, uncalibrated ionizing emitting equipment [aolnews.com] .

Re:Great (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540458)

I was most recently told at PBI "You know we don't use the X-ray type, it's the other one." I said, "yeah, that's not why I'm not doing it -- I'm not doing it because I think it's stupid."

Re:Great (3, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541090)

Fair enough. :) That used to be my reason, until they kept escalating the dangerousness of the equipment being used.

    I just spent a few days in the hospital, and got dosed with probably as much radiation as I should be exposed to in a year. At least at the hospital I know they're generally monitored, but they have failures too [nytimes.com] . At least the hospitals will eventually figure out they have errors. They also aren't hitting millions of people per year, and only checking to make sure they get an image back once a year at best. It reminds me of the fluoroscopes [wikipedia.org] , except they're hitting virtually everyone that travels.

    I've asked TSA agents about the people they've caught. So far, none. At one airport, the agent told me that he heard about someone at an airport 100 miles away that was caught carrying a gun in her purse, but he couldn't confirm it.

    I was early for the first flight of the day at another airport. I had a good conversation with an agent there. We were discussing the futility of their jobs. There are so many ways to accomplish the same general idea (mass destruction). The TSA having their high visibility job simply means that most likely If a terrorist did attack, they wouldn't use a commercial airliner.

    For $500k you can get a working airliner. [aerotrader.com] . You can squeeze in 20 tons of your favorite explosive (say 2,500 gallons of diesel fuel, and 20,000 pounds of fertilizer), and put it wherever you want. Knowing that bad guys intending to commit a crime aren't the most law abiding individuals, you can knock the price down to $0 on the aircraft if it's stolen.

    But why an airliner. They need specialized training to operate. How about a boat [wikipedia.org] . Or a truck [wikipedia.org] . Or why bring the explosion to the target, when there are so many other choices. An abandon building with gas service could be deadly [wikipedia.org] . It doesn't need to be the building though. Natural gas could be pumped into a sewage system, but is less than ideal since it's lighter than air. Propane on the other hand could be catastrophic for a large area.

    I think the only reason the gov't doesn't hire me as a scenario designer is, I'd give them way too many things to worry about. It's easier to focus on "bad guy wants to get on a plane", and it creates the illusion of security, where lots of civilians have to endure the worthless security checks. Roughly 7 in 10 attempts by the FBI are missed when they've covertly audited the TSA's security. But sure as hell, they still want to touch my penis.

Re:Great (1)

CMYKjunkie (1594319) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541352)

"But sure as hell, they still want to touch my penis." You talk like that's a bad thing!! To think a man would decline a hand-job before a flight - what has this country come to!!

Re:Great (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541562)

The last dude who gave me the going over was a 60-ish year old white haired gentleman. I can pass.

Re:Great (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542174)

I wouldn't decline the handjob, even if they're doing it where the other passengers can see. My complaint is that I don't get a "happy ending".

Re:Great (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541166)

Microwave radiation is not ionizing.

Re:Great (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542112)

X-rays are though.

According to the TSA (but not what they tell you at the airport), their full body scanners use both X-ray and microwaves (err, millimeter waves). I don't see a lot of shielding around any of their equipment. When I've looked at x-ray exam rooms (where I had the luxury to examine the space in detail), they use lead lined wallboard and doors to shield the space.

According to L3, their "ProVision" unit uses only microwaves, but they don't specify the frequency nor power. I'd rather not stand in front of a 1000W transmitter, even if it's just for a few seconds. I seriously doubt that they're transmitting in the mW range. According to Wiki, they're in the EHF range (30Ghz to 300Ghz).

The USAF has the Active Denial System, made by Raytheon, which also uses millimeter waves. It will cause a burning sensation on the skin, and can cause blistering. Clearly, that frequency does not pass through, or bounce off harmlessly.

Further testing would be required to determine if the units at the airports are really safe. That testing has not been done.

So, ionizing (X-ray) or non-ionizing (millimeter wave), it's not necessarily good for you. At least with X-rays, we do know the effects. Unfortunately, there is no group responsible for calibrating or verifying the machines.

Testing such equipment on such a broad scale would normally be illegal. At very least it is negligent.

Re:Great (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542246)

... and to further that ...

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=us-glossed-over-cancer-concerns [scientificamerican.com]

While the research on medical X-rays could fill many bookcases, the studies that have been done on the airport X-ray scanners, known as backscatters, fill a file no more than a few inches thick. None of the main studies cited by the TSA has been published in a peer-reviewed journal, the gold standard for scientific research.

Re:Great (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542404)

While I despise the TSA, their X-Ray machines use a very very small amount of radiation to perform their scans.

From the article you cited:

"Those tests show that the Secure 1000 delivers an extremely low dose of radiation, less than 10 microrems. The dose is roughly one-thousandth of a chest X-ray and equivalent to the cosmic radiation received in a few minutes of flying at typical cruising altitude. The TSA has used those measurements to say the machines are âoesafe.â'

Normal terrestrial background radiation exposure is 90-200 millrems per year.

Why spend billions on the TSA? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38539984)

I think the numbers are a little skewed to how they want them to be perceived.
If you look at airline safety and fatality rate as a whole, it's ridiculously low. Even prior to 2001 and the TSA's iron grip on our airports, air travel was far safer than any other form of transportation.

Even including the events of 9/11 against the numbers (they aren't included as air travel fatalities in the reports) and you still find air travel as the safest form of transportation.

Why then are we paying tens of billions of dollars each year for the TSA to "keep us safe" when it's already the safest mode of transportation? The US is spending so much money trying to 'protect' us from such an extremely small chance of something happening. More people die in car crashes each month than in the last 10 years of US commercial flight!

It just doesn't make any sense to me.

Re:Why spend billions on the TSA? (2)

ShnowDoggie (858806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541030)

I wonder how many lives would be saved if we instead put that money towards improving road safety?

Re:Why spend billions on the TSA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38541346)

Why then are we paying tens of billions of dollars each year for the TSA to "keep us safe" when it's already the safest mode of transportation?

Because they don't want another building with fifty thousand people in it intentionally struck by a plane.

More people die in car crashes each month than in the last 10 years of US commercial flight!

Those car crashes last month didn't tank the economy. Look, I agree that the spending is foolish, but your rationale isn't going to go anywhere if you don't even remember what 9/11 was actually like. Lots of people, for example, like to trot out the 3,000+ fatality number even though, for several days, the fear was that the death toll was in the tens of thousands. More people ignore the fact that several states had to extend their unemployment benefits because the havoc it caused with the economy took longer than six months to recover. The gov't doesn't want this again. They're being wasteful about it, and it's not very effective, but until the argument comes along that actually addresses the fact that 9/11 was more than just three thousand ppl spontaneously dropping dead, it's not going to be taken seriously.

Woo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38540022)

Less deaths!
More money spent!
More ball groping!
More rights stripped away!
Higher profits for everyone!
Higher cancer rates from irradiating everyone!

Hmmm. Idk if i'd call this a win...

Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38540048)

The previous record was one death every 6.4 metres? that's quite an improvement!

We are also in the midst of the longest period wit (3, Insightful)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540078)

No. We are not. We are always in the end of it.

Statistically speaking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38540094)

Something will happen in the next day, or this will be a huge outlier.

note that this even includes some sketchy airlines (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540098)

This includes everything commercial, even ex-Soviet states flying 40-year-old planes with questionable maintenance practices, and the total deaths are still only 401.

Re:note that this even includes some sketchy airli (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38540258)

Russian plane strong - use tractor engine and vodka for fuel!

FAA (1)

walkerp1 (523460) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540136)

And here I thought the FAA shutdown in July-August would have planes falling out of the sky. Who knew?

See? (1)

scumfuker (882056) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540150)

The TSA are doing something! This is proof!

Fists of Justice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38540152)

on rectal exams, do they ever use a fist? or do they feel around "in there" like a pair of chopsticks sloppily trying to pick up clumps of rice?

Statistics (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540192)

Can you really compare annual statistics from a low probability event like a plane crash to other years to say that one year is safer than another? If a single Airbus A380 crashed tomorrow, it could triple the number of fatalities for this year (from 400 to 1200), but does that really make this year 3 times more dangerous than it was yesterday? And since that accident was only a day away from 2012, if there are only 400 accidents in 2012 does that make 2012 safer than 2011 when the difference is based on a single accident?

If plane crashes happened every day, and this year there were 1000 crashes versus 2000 for last year, then that seems more meaningful. Likewise, combining years into decades seems like it would show safety trends, but if a single accident can skew the annual statistics so wildly, it doesn't seem reasonable to compare by year.

Re:Statistics (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540364)

not, it's another data point to look at an overall trend.

You people, sheesh.

Re:Statistics (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540504)

not, it's another data point to look at an overall trend.

But does it really show a statistically valid trend? Can I look at this years crash statistics and feel that air travel is safer, or is it a feel-good number that really tells me nothing at all?

You people, sheesh

yeah, no kidding! If people would just believe what they read in the paper without questioning it, we'd all be much better off!

Re:Statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38540706)

You can't. The probability of any particular plane crashing is related to the competence of the people who work for the airline and airport. It varies between region to region, airline to airline, day to day. And then there's the weather roulette. In NWT 2011 was a bad year for plane crashes.

Re:Statistics (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542226)

Yes, you can. Using the appropriate statistics. But any number without error bars is meaningless, low probability event or no.

Hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38540254)

As I read this while waiting to board a flight, I'm wondering if I'm about to become a number as we regress to the mean.....

Seriously, they can't wait a couple of days? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540390)

Afraid of being scooped by some other publication?

All thanks to the TSA (1)

aenigmainc (739876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540552)

If it wasn't for the TSA, and their tireless efforts to protect us, it would have been a horrible year for air safety. /s

Car travel versus air travel (4, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38540894)

I'd like to see the statistics on the number of extra fatalities due to extra car travel by people who are so fed up with TSA security and airline travel in general that they don't want to fly. I know that on a recent vacation, I drove the 1000 miles because I didn't feel like subjecting me and my family to airport security.

I know that statistically it was less safe, but realistically, it was more fun and less stress - no one got felt-up by airport security or had to stand in an x-ray machine, we didn't have to pair down our wardrobes to what would fit in a carryon (or risk having it lost on the way there), no one stopped us from bringing sunscreens, lotions, or our favorite beverages on the road. We even brought a couple bottles of our favorite wine to enjoy at our destination and didn't need to put it in gorilla-proof packaging that can survive checked baggage handling.

Oh, and it was cheaper, including 2 overnight hotel stays. It took more time, but to me, vacation starts when the family is together and on the way, not just when we get there.

Re:Car travel versus air travel (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541214)

But it COULD have been far easier to fly, and you could have had more time at your destination. Quite honestly, being locked in a tin can, strapped in against potential impact, bombarded by the din of the engine(s) is not hat I call "vacation" or "quality time." It's even less so when I am in charge of the flight.

Imagine a world without the TSA - you arrive 45 minutes before your flight, your checked backs go straight into the cargo hold, you hang around for 10 minutes at the gate before boarding, your flight lasts 1/10 the time as your car travel, and you often arrive at your destination before the next mealtime. Sure, it's cheaper to drive if you have a large group (you're only paying for gasoline and wear/tear once), but the main convenience of flying is - or should I say WAS - time in transit.

It also sounds like your travel took you two days, vs about 1/2 a day for flying. For wage slaves, that's three extra days of limited "vacation" time, for the self-employed, it's three days of opportunity cost (about $3000 for me). BTW - I did a 900 mile trip via air recently - for three people it cost us the same as gas (+/-10%), but it was a discount carrier to a common destination.

Re:Car travel versus air travel (3, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541686)

But it COULD have been far easier to fly, and you could have had more time at your destination. Quite honestly, being locked in a tin can, strapped in against potential impact, bombarded by the din of the engine(s) is not hat I call "vacation" or "quality time." It's even less so when I am in charge of the flight.

To each his own. I'm not sure if you were talking about a car or a plane when you said "locked in a tin can" - when we're driving, we have a lot of freedom - when we're hungry, we stop off at a real restaurant with freshly prepared food, not a $10 "meal" that's been sitting in a warmer for 3 hours where I have to choose between beef and chicken . And a full-size restroom. When we get tired of driving, we can pull into a rest area and let the kids run around and play in the grass. If we see a sign for "Worlds biggest ball of twine", we can go check it out if we want to. While we're driving, the kids can practice their reading, or we play 20 questions, or one of many other car games. Oh, and I enjoy driving, especially when I have no urgency to get somewhere - I go with the flow of traffic, take my time and stay relaxed.

Imagine a world without the TSA - you arrive 45 minutes before your flight, your checked backs go straight into the cargo hold, you hang around for 10 minutes at the gate before boarding, your flight lasts 1/10 the time as your car travel, and you often arrive at your destination before the next mealtime. Sure, it's cheaper to drive if you have a large group (you're only paying for gasoline and wear/tear once), but the main convenience of flying is - or should I say WAS - time in transit.

If air travel was still like that, it's likely that we would have flown - we could have brought the kids favorite foods/beverages on board, we wouldn't to wonder if putting children through an x-ray scanner is worth not having to explain why a complete stranger is touching them in inappropriate places, we would't have to stop and take off their shoes before they walk through a metal detector and then have to search for a seating area to put their shoes and belts back on. The safety factor alone makes air travel attractive, but not when it means inconveniencing or embarrassing my children when forced to go through invasive checkpoints.

It also sounds like your travel took you two days, vs about 1/2 a day for flying. For wage slaves, that's three extra days of limited "vacation" time, for the self-employed, it's three days of opportunity cost (about $3000 for me). BTW - I did a 900 mile trip via air recently - for three people it cost us the same as gas (+/-10%), but it was a discount carrier to a common destination.

The other drawback with airline travel is that it's on the airline's schedule, not mine. If we flew, we would have left on a 10am Wednesday morning flight (the 4pm Tuesday flight would have meant another half day off work, the 6am Wednesday flight would have meant waking up at 3:30am to get to the airport on time). It was a 12 hour drive (excluding stops)...we got on the road at 5pm Wednesday just after I got off work, and drove until midnight. I had planned on stopping around 10pm, but traffic was light, I wasn't tired, and the kids were sleeping, so we kept going to an upcoming larger town). The next day we got on the road at 9am after breakfast and got to our destination around 2pm - just in time for hotel check-in and maybe an hour after we would have gotten to the hotel if we had taken the flight. So while driving did cost more time, it didn't really eat into our vacation time. On the way back we left Tuesday afternoon instead of flying home on Wednesday morning, so we lost 1/2 day of "vacation", but only a few usable hours, most of the time we spend driving would have been spent in the hotel room.

The cost savings was not a major factor in choosing to drive, but it was significant savings - we paid around $300 in gas (round-trip), $80 each for two nights of hotels while driving or $460. We would have spent $280 each for 4 plane tickets, $100 in transportation to/from our home airport, and $150 in car rental at our destination, or $1370. That extra $900 that we saved covered the cost of the hotel at our destination. Wear and tear on the car is harder to measure and maybe accounts for a hundred dollars or so.

Re:Car travel versus air travel (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542256)

I'd like to see the statistics on the number of extra fatalities due to extra car travel by people who are so fed up with TSA security and airline travel in general that they don't want to fly. I know that on a recent vacation, I drove the 1000 miles because I didn't feel like subjecting me and my family to airport security.

As much as I wish more people chose not to fly to protest the TSA's security measures, I doubt that number is that significant.

However, the hassle that the TSA causes and added time to travel probably does make a difference for many. Despite living very close to a major airport, it doesn't make sense for me to take a plane unless I'm going somewhere more than about 400 [highway] miles away. By the time you add up the time on public transportation to the airports, the boarding time, and the TSA "bonus" time allowance, I could usually have driven 200-300 miles. And I get to pay many times the amount I'd pay to drive, with greatly decreased flexibility in my schedule, maybe to get an hour or two of time not spent standing in a line or waiting for something to happen?

A lot of families do the math, I'm sure. It's not just the TSA but the whole airport experience. And the increased road traffic undoubtedly causes increased casualties on the road.

Given that there are roughly 40,000 traffic fatalities every year in the U.S., even if traffic rates were increased by 1%, that could increase those numbers by 400 extra fatalities per year. (Obviously, this is a very gross estimate.) Over 10 years, that would cumulatively amount to more deaths than from 9/11.

That said, I'm not sure the anti-airline sentiment has led to an increase of 1% in traffic or more, but fear of flying after 9/11 may have resulted in a significant number of road deaths, so I'm sure the effect you mention will have some significance: http://www2.johnson.cornell.edu/thoughtleadership/feature.cfm?feature=62 [cornell.edu]

Tell that to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38541126)

I'm sure it'll make them feel better.

Usafely Groped (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541220)

I've never worried about dying in a plane based on safety stats. Once in a while when I actually fell from the sky for a while I had my worries ;), but not because 1 in 6.4M is any more worth worrying about than 1 in 7.4M.

But there is the very real risk of getting fondled by TSA, or baked under some extra full-body x-rays, that happens to many thousands out of every 6.4M or 7.1M passengers. And which does practically nothing to keep any of us from dying in a plane.

Thank you Cyberdyne Systems (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 2 years ago | (#38541424)

I think a lot of the credit should go to the neural net processors flying the planes.

Re:Thank you Cyberdyne Systems (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542152)

I think a lot of the credit should go to the neural net processors flying the planes.

There actually are neural net processors flying the planes (but of the natural biological form, not from Cyberdyne). But they play an increasingly smaller part in piloting planes. Is that a coincidence (because aircraft are safer in general) or one of the reasons behind increased air safety?

who flies anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38541706)

Maybe less people die, because less people fly, most notably those with dignity who refuse to endure the TSA's draconian tactics. I read a related article today about how 2012 looks to be even more abysmal for the airline industry, which also ignored the elephant in the room (the TSA)

Re:who flies anymore (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542102)

Maybe less people die, because less people fly, most notably those with dignity who refuse to endure the TSA's draconian tactics. I read a related article today about how 2012 looks to be even more abysmal for the airline industry, which also ignored the elephant in the room (the TSA)

Since they are comparing deaths per passenger, they've already taken into account the number of trips taken.

But they don't take into account deaths of travelers that choose other, less safe, forms of transportation because of TSA and poor airline service/policies.

It would be interesting to see that number - if that number of deaths is higher than the projected number of terrorism related deaths that TSA is supposedly preventing, we may be paying TSA large sums of money to kill people.

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