Since 890% of all airplane crashes are non-fatal, the rest of the passengers die later on from passenger error, the choice of living or dying in such a scenario can clearly be up to you the passenger. It is apparent that most passengers believe that an airplane crash is the result of catastrophic failure which implies that the plane blows up and all die. This is rarely the case, but makes for the biggest headlines.
Your first move as an airplane passenger is not your move; it is the airline's move. You step onto the plane and as you greet the steward, you believe that his purpose is to serve you drinks and peanuts. You have no idea that this person is highly trained via constant seminars to save your life, and his first move is passenger assessment. The steward is determining via his training the mental, physical, and emotional condition of each passenger. Have you been drinking? Are you alert? Physically, are you strong? If an emergency arises, can I count on you to be of assistance?
Now your first move stepping onto an airplane is to start making assessments also. Look at your fellow passengers, and start drawing the same conclusions as the steward. As you travel down the aisle to your seat, note where all the exit doors are, because in an emergency, they are your only way out of the plane. You need to know where those doors are in relationship to where your seat is. You'd better count the rows between your seat and the exit door, and memorize the count. In a fire, or smoke situation, you may not see that door. You will wind up touching each row in a darken situation until you reach the door.
If there's smoke or fire, you will most likely need to kneel down and make your way to the exit doors because smoke and fire tend to move up towards the ceiling. Do not however attempt to CRAWL. You will likely wind up getting trampled by the people behind you in their haste to get out, and they will not help you get up again if this should happen.
You are now in your seat. You also are aware of who is around you, and where the exit doors are, including back up exit doors because your nearest one could get blocked if a problem should arise. As you sit in your sit, you will find in front of you a pouch with magazines and other items in it. One of those pieces of literature is a safety folder including pictures of the airplane, and a list of safety steps to take. You MUST familiarize yourself with these procedures. They are carefully thought out. Nobody studies them.
This means if nobody studies the proven procedures that in an emergency people will just REACT. If you react by instinct it is highly likely that your instincts will be wrong. Training blows away Instinct, each and every time. The steward will give a lecture at some point on safety issues, and you must pay attention. Unlike school, there is no grade for this lecture; however your survival is at stake. She is providing you with procedures to save your life in the event of a safety issue.
So while you are sitting in that seat, you have to come up with a plan to get to the exit doors if a situation should arise. While you are planning your exit, make sure you keep that seat on at all times, unless you get up for a moment to go to the bathroom. You never read about it, but you have no idea how many injuries occur to people because they sit on a plane which is a potential missile at all times, and they are cavalier about wearing the seat belt. I have seen planes drop a 1000 feet instantly because of unexpected turbulence, and passengers wind up flying out of their seats and towards the luggage compartments above. Your head is what slows down your body in this case.
Passengers love to drink on planes. They will have singles, doubles, beers, anything that can inebriate them. This is a bad mistake as far as survival is concerned. Save the booze for the hotel when you get off the plane. While alcohol is an obvious depressant, it is also a drug that is mood altering. You drink, it goes right to the stomach. If you have eaten, its path is slower. If you haven't eaten, it moves quickly to the brain, and bypasses the blood brain barrier to boot. With lightning speed you get judgment distortion, coordination lapses, your perception is shot, and forget about your reflexes. You will also suffer from confusion, and your behavior becomes aberrant.
Be careful with those floatation devices. They have been put on the planes for safety reasons with good intentions. Under the wrong scenario they will contribute to your death if you let them. You must be sure to inflate them only OUTSIDE the airplane. If it should inflate inside the plane, they can easily PREVENT YOU from exiting the aircraft because you will wind up floating to the top of the water inside the plane, and be unable to get out. The device which is meant to save your life, will kill you by preventing your egress from the plane.
As for pilot training, your pilot has been superbly trained. This doesn't mean he will not make a deadly error and in fact cause an accident by error. It does mean that the rate of pilot error and resultant accident in this country is a fraction of what it would not be without such training. As an example, your pilot spends an average of one hour prepping for a cross country flight. He has a checklist which he goes by so as not to forget anything. Most pilots are extra cautious, so when the check list says check wings for frost build-up, they don't just call outside and ask the mechanics to check the wings, they check themselves.
This checklist prevents 90% of all problems in flight. Did you know that 40% of all crushes in this country involving private aircraft are the result of the plane running out of fuel? You have never heard of a large passenger plane running out of fuel. In addition professional pilots are subject to constant training including simulator training. I found out the benefits of the simulator shortly after John F. Kennedy Junior accidental killed himself due to pilot error.
I ask an American Airlines pilot about his error. The pilot responded, "We call that the 2 minute 30 second rule.” How's that, I continued. His response was, “Well when we duplicate that scenario in the simulator, no American Airlines pilot has ever been able to go more than 2 minutes and 30 seconds without crashing."
Good luck on saving your own life during your next flight.
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Goodbye and good luck