Over 21 million Brits are now more scared of flying compared to 10 years ago, new research has revealed, with engine failure the biggest fear factor.
The study showed that people in the UK now take an average of three flights every year.
But despite their frequent flying and 2017 being one of the safest years on record for commercial air travel – and most people saying they trust both pilots and cabin crew – a third of those questioned (38 per cent) admitted that stories about crashes, disappearances and terrorist attacks has made them fear for their safety on planes.
A study carried out by National Geographic has found that 21 million Brits are more scared of flying compared to 10 years ago (file image)
The research was carried out by National Geographic to support its brand new series of Air Crash Investigation, which uncovers the truth behind aviation disasters.
It found that eight out of 10 Brits say their biggest worry about flying is either engine failure or crashing.
It also found that over half (51 per cent) of 25 to 34-year-olds are more scared for their safety compared to only just over a quarter (27 per cent) of the over 65s.
However, it seems as a nation, once on board Brits feel comfortable flying for up to eight hours on average, yet if the worst was to happen, over two fifths (42 per cent) said they would not know what to do if faced with a mid-flight emergency.
But for those who do fear flying, many look to superstitions and pre-flight rituals to appease their anxiety.
The research showed that more than two fifths (43 per cent) of 25 to 34-year-olds avoid certain seats on a flight, with nearly a third (32 per cent) opting to avoid plane seats that are far from the emergency exit, or at the front of the plane.
For those who take to the skies regularly, nearly a quarter (23 per cent) choose their seat based solely on air crash survival rates.
For those who do fear flying, many look to superstitions and pre-flight rituals to appease their anxiety
David Gleave, an aviation safety investigator, said: ‘The research highlighted choosing seats based on location may be common place but it’s not the most significant factor in having a safe flight, or surviving a flight that has an accident.
‘However, actions such as this, or touching the plane before boarding, or even taking an airline’s own nervous passenger course before a flight, can provide an anxious traveller with the peace of mind needed to reassure and aid when we feel uneasy.
‘What is most fascinating, is how the respondents do not regard human error as one of the biggest factors.
‘As more pilots retire and as the training courses are simplified, the lack of pilot experience in some airlines could become the biggest safety issue in the global aviation industry.’
Meanwhile the study also revealed that more than half of Brits believe that cyber security such as flight systems being hacked will be one of the biggest future threats to flights over the next ten years.
Also a further 52 per cent think drone collisions will be an issue.
Mr Gleave added: ‘Technology will also continue to be an important element in aircraft safety and we can expect to see more attempts to down aircraft using drones, as well as more airport closures from drone activity – either for the threat to life, or to just inflict economic damage.
‘This may be countered by anti-drone technology and drone tracking requirements put in place on innocent stray drone activities.
The research comes as 2017 was named as one of the safest on record for commercial air travel
‘This won’t have a huge increase in the number of crashes we can anticipate to see but failure to learn lessons from events that have occurred will continue to be the biggest risk we face when flying.’
Many people will be surprised by the results of the survey given statistics from the International Air Transport Association show that the number of accidents in global aviation each year are an incredibly small fraction of the millions of flights that take place.
According to the Aviation Safety Network (ASN), in the past two decades, aviation deaths around the world have been steadily falling.
It says that the accident rate is one fatal passenger flight accident per 7,360,000 flights.
And last year was deemed to be one of the safest on record for commercial air travel.
Dutch aviation consulting firm To70 and the Aviation Safety Network both reported that there were no commercial passenger jet fatalities in 2017.
However, there have already been two fatal accidents in 2018 after a Russia-based Saratov Airlines flight crashed shortly after take-off in Moscow killing all 71 on board.
While last week an Aseman Airlines jet crashed in a foggy, mountainous region of southern Iran leaving 65 dead.
- National Geographic is airing brand new episodes of Air Crash Investigation every Thursday at 9pm.