New App Will Tell You If Your Plane Will Crash

Technology is a beautiful thing. It enables me to do what I love for a living every day. iPhone apps are also a lovely thing. They enable all kinds of things, from an on-demand car service, to other on-demand “services.”

CNN had a story today about a new iPhone app which will tell you the chances of your plane crashing. “Am I Going Down?” is available in the iTunes store for 99 cents.

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When you use the app you enter your origin, destination, airline, and aircraft, and it will tell you the probability of you “going down.”

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So, you want to fly British Airways on a 747 from New York to London?

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You only have a 1 in 9,283,062 chance of going down.

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How about Malaysia Airlines on a 777 between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing?

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Your chances of going down just increased roughly ninefold, to 1 in 1,035,932.

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According to the app, you’d be about five times safer flying an airberlin CRJ between Los Angeles and Honolulu! 😉

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When you select each parameter, there’s color coding to indicate how safe something is. So the MD80 is “green” (apparently very safe), while the Concorde is red (apparently not safe)…

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The same goes for airlines. Air Canada? You’re good to go. Aeroflot? Stay away. Air France or Air India? Somewhere in the middle.

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Okay, so this app is so beyond ridiculous that it’s almost amusing. What’s the inspiration behind it? Per CNN:

Developer Nic Johns says it’s geared toward those who are uneasy about air travel.

“The initial inspiration comes from my co-founder and wife, Julie, who for many years has suffered from a fear of flying,” says Johns.

“In developing ‘Am I Going Down?’ I wanted to present the fact that the vast majority of flights are incredibly low risk. Our app is meant as tool to help reassure fearful fliers.”

Except that’s not what it does. At all. I was showing my mom the app this evening, and I explained to her that green meant “safe” while red meant “less safe.”

We scrolled over Cairo, which was “red.” My mom gasped in shock and said “I don’t want you flying there anymore.” “Why?” “Because it’s not safe, it’s red!”

Bottom line

This is utterly ridiculous. You want to prove flying is safe? Then don’t call your app “Am I Going Down?”

Comments

  1. As a frequent flier who is terrified of flying, let me just say that there’s nothing about this app that would put one’s mind at ease. My fear of flying is not rational, so giving me the odds isn’t worth anything.

  2. It might have helped if they added pertinent information like chances of a car crash on the way to the airport to provide some sense of scale.

  3. While I completely understand the app is intended to be on the fun/humorous side of informational, I find it annoying that the figures it presents have so many significant figures.

    I have to imagine the app has some sort of data on crash/unsafe incidents related to each of the each of the datapoints (airline, origin, destination, aircraft) but surely just arbitrarily weighting those datapoints can’t be accurate. Certainly not to the unit precision implied in numbers like 1/5,115,150 or 1/9,283,062.

    Even though I’m not afraid in the least of flying, I think the precision adds to the “scare factor”. Unfortunately the app would be a lot less interesting if it said “if everyone on the plane bought a lottery ticket, you’d have a better chance of someone winning than all of you dying in a burning wreck.”

  4. What a disgustingly alarmist app that will no doubt make those who are already nervous flyers even more anxious.

  5. “You want to prove flying is safe? Then don’t call your app ‘Am I Going Down?'”

    Their real goal–to make money off of panicky, ignorant, and/or morbid people–wouldn’t sell quite as well on camera.

  6. The app is worthless even if it was accurate. Odds don’t mean a thing if you’re on the plane going down.

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