How safe am I in a plane?

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1. Taking flight

You've probably heard that flying is safer than driving a car. It can be hard to believe when you consider a plane defies gravity to then spend hours at 30,000 ft in the air.

But today's aircraft are some of the safest machines ever created and have been designed to keep working even if things go wrong. A plane like the 747 has four engines, but it's capable of landing with just one in the unlikely event of its other three engines failing.

And that's just one example of clever aeronautical engineering. During the filming of City in the Sky, I went behind the scenes to discover the technology and people ensuring you have a smooth flight from take-off to landing.

2. In the system

For some, boarding a plane can be a leap of faith. But there are numerous systems in place which look out for us while we're airborne. Click to find out more.

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Images: Karen Fuller/Alamy, Samuel D. Barricklow/Getty, imageBROKER/Alamy; Greg Bajor/Alamy.

3. Humans in charge

While technology plays a vital role, pilots themselves are highly skilled and must undergo regular training.

There are always two pilots on commercial flights, who constantly watch what the other is doing. Long before take-off, they check the aircraft externally as well as testing internal warning systems. Nothing is done without agreement between the pilots.

The safety of the aircraft and passengers is of utmost importance to the pilots, who have particular procedures to follow. At a critical phase such as landing, the pilots constantly evaluate safety.

Landing can actually be aborted at any stage before the wheels touch the ground – up until this stage, the pilot always has the option of taking the aircraft up again before making another attempt at landing.

The pilots’ importance was shown during the crash landing on New York’s Hudson River in 2009. When a flock of birds hit both engines of a US Airways plane leaving LaGuardia Airport, Captain Chesley Sullenberger avoided a potentially catastrophic disaster over the city by skilfully ditching the aircraft in the river with no fatalities.

4. Owning errors

One of the biggest improvements to flight safety over recent years has been the widespread adoption of an open and honest safety culture in the aviation industry.

Pilots are now encouraged to report their mistakes without fear of reprisal so others can learn from their experiences and safeguards can be put in place before a serious incident occurs.

Air accidents occasionally happen but in reality, they are very rare. In 2015 there were 37.5 million flights across the globe and a total of 68 accidents, of which only four involved fatalities.

These statistics, combined with a range of advanced technology and human expertise, will hopefully be a comfort to nervous fliers.

5. What worries you?

So we know we’re being well looked after in the air, but what about those other little niggles that you just can’t shake?

Flying through turbulence

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Flying through turbulence

Planes are designed to be strong enough to withstand turbulence. It poses a greater risk to passengers who aren’t strapped in.

Being hit by lightning

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Being hit by lightning

A lightning strike can cause a bang and instrument fluctuation, but it’s not critical.

The plane icing up

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The plane icing up

Most aircraft have systems in place which can detect ice in the air. These will send warm air to at-risk areas so ice doesn’t get a chance to form.