Aviation expert reveals the safest place to sit on a plane 

exit sign illuminated so passengers can see the exit clearly
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An aviation expert has revealed the seats you may want to avoid during a crash and the safest place to sit on a plane. 

While Doug Drury, a professor and head of aviation at Central Queensland University, is overwhelming positivity about the safety of planes past research has given clues to which seats passengers may want to avoid when booking.  

In an article for The Conversation Drury wrote: “Before we get into it, I should reiterate that air travel is the safest mode of transport. In 2019, there were just under 70 million flights globally, with only 287 fatalities.” 

According to Drury, plane crashes by their very nature “do not conform” to standards and there are cases in which most people who survived were sat towards the front of the aircraft behind first class seating.  

In 2015 Time Magazine published an article which focused on aircraft accidents from the previous 35 years to understand if there was any pattern with fatalities and where they sat. 

Usable data was available from 17 flights over this period and revealed seats in the back third of the aircraft had a 32% fatality rate, compared with 39% in the middle third and 38% in the front third. 

When looking at row positioning the publication’s analysis showed the middle seats at the back of the aircraft had the lowest fatality rate of 28% and the aisle in the middle third had the highest (44%). 

A 2008 study from the University of Greenwich cited in Time Magazine also argued those sat closest to an exit are most likely to survive but the Time Magazine research concluded “those who perished were scattered irregularly between survivors.” 

Drury also raised the point that the circumstance of the crash will also “dictate survivability” and crashing into a mountain or nose-first into water will result in more deaths than a pilot making a last-ditch attempt to land in a field.  

The aviation expert also suggests a larger plane could be safer by providing “additional protection in an emergency.” 

“But this, again, is highly dependent on the severity of the emergency. That’s not to say you should book your next flight on the largest plane you can find,” he explained. 

Adding: “As I’ve mentioned, air travel remains very safe. So I’d suggest thinking about what movie you’ll watch instead, and hoping they don’t run out of chicken and only have the shrimp left!” 

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