Dreaded middle seat revealed as safest on a plane

When it comes to flying economy, it turns out that while the dreaded middle seat may not be the most comfortable, it’s officially the safest spot on the plane.

Experts say while flying on a plane is still safer than travelling in a car, accidents can occur and in the event that a plane crashes, the middle seat on the very last row has the highest survival rate.

CQUniversity’s Professor of Aviation Doug Drury said a 2015 TIME magazine investigation that analysed 35 years of aircraft accident data found the middle rear seats of an aircraft had the lowest fatality rate – 28 per cent, compared with 44 per cent for the middle aisle seats.

“You have to think about when you have an aisle seat, you don’t have anything to your left or right and so the crash properties will be swinging everybody around,” he told AAP on Monday.

“In the middle seat in the back, you basically have a person on your left and one on the right and so they act as a buffer a little bit.”

The odds of dying in a plane crash are about one in 205,552, compared with one in 102 in a car, according to the US National Safety Council’s analysis of census data.

In 2019, there were just under 70 million flights globally, with 287 fatalities.

Professor Drury said though rare, in the event of an accident if a plane is to nosedive, no seat is safe, however when it comes to level landing, the back is the safest.

“If the aircraft is landing somewhat level … if pilots are trying to land but they don’t quite make it, then there is a probability that sitting in the back will have a higher chance of success of surviving than the people up front,” he said.

“The physics of an aircraft accident are not the same every single time.”


Mibenge Nsenduluka
(Australian Associated Press)


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