Is There Cause for Fear of Flying?

Despite an alarming outbreak of accidents, air travel remains remarkably safe

As record numbers of travelers crowd into airports, the question of safety is on many minds. Just the thought of hurtling miles above the ground inside a slender aluminum tube is enough to give some people sweaty palms. Even frequent flyers often breathe a sigh of relief when their plane at last touches down.

A series of crashes has raised new concerns about safety in the skies. Nearly 2,000 people died around the world in commercial air accidents in 1985, making it aviation's deadliest year. The worst crash occurred when a Japan Air Lines 747 slammed into a mountain last August,...

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