Did a fuel line give way? Did a fuel pump not shut down as it should? Did a fitting of some sort fail? Investigators will be looking at all those possibilities from the fire and explosion on the left engine of a China Airlines B-737-809 yesterday as it stood parked at the gate at Naha Airport in Okinawa, Japan. Fortunately, there were no fatalies. After the flames were extinguished, the crumpled fuselage resemmbled a beached whale.
In investigating the accident, I did not turn to CNN or the NYTImes. Rather, I look at sites like Planecrashinfo.com and 1001.com. Digging into these sites are not for the squeamish flyer who hears every odd noise and feels every bump. Err, that would be me. I estimate I’ver flown at least 1.5 million miles, almost all of it on commercial jetliners. My only brushes with disaster were severe turbulence and an on-the-taxiway fender bender.
Anyhow, there’s an amazing amount verbiage, hair-raising accounts, sounds and videos about plane crashes on the web. Did you know, American Airlines has had 38 accidents since 1931? Do you want to read or hear the last words from pilots and co-pilots (this one offers a warning that it may be "disturbing" to some.) How about an account from Delta 767 pilot who took right behind United Flight 93 on 9-11? How about fatal events per millions of flights?
For someone who flies, viewing these stats and stories seems like tempting fate. But I feel better when internalizing this reassuring statistic from Planecrashinfo.com: "If a passenger boarded a flight at random, once a day, every day, it would be approximately 22,000 years before he or she would be killed."