“How safe are our skies?” When this question is asked, events like the al-Qa’eda attacks and the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie are uppermost in the thoughts of most English-speaking people. Deeper consideration gives rise to thoughts of other air disasters that have not, so far as has been proved, involved terrorists.
Some areas of the world are more prone to air accidents than others. This may simply reflect the heavier movement of commercial airliners in such regions. But does it explain the frequency of incidents involving aircraft departing from New York’s Kennedy Airport? Consider four major crashes: TW 800, Swissair 111, Egyptair 990, and AA 587.
On July 17, 1996, a Trans World Airways Boeing 747, flight 800, took off from New York’s Kennedy Airport and headed for Paris. It was an hour behind schedule. The aircraft was above the waters off the coast of Long Island when, at 8:48 P.M. local time, its image disappeared from the air traffic control radar screens. What had been flight 800 fell into the ocean. All 228 people on board, 210 passengers