Sunday, February 25, 2007

Mile-high scandal: increase the risk of air accident?

Another air incident, another sea accident in Indonesia.

We all might have heard that the probability of airplane accident, or crash, is much lower than the probability of (fatal) car accident. Steven Johnson's the Risk summarizes a study on this topic:

" would seem to be reasonable for those in charge of our safety to inform the public about how many airliners would have to crash before flying becomes as dangerous as driving the same distance in an automobile. It turns out that someone has made that calculation: University of Michigan transportation researchers Michael Sivak and Michael Flannagan, in an article last year in American Scientist, wrote that they determined there would have to be one set of September 11 crashes a month for the risks to balance out. More generally, they calculate that an American’s chance of being killed in one nonstop airline flight is about one in 13 million (even taking the September 11 crashes into account). To reach that same level of risk when driving on America’s safest roads — rural interstate highways — one would have to travel a mere 11.2 miles."
What if one drives in China? It might take only a short 2 miles to equal the risk! What if one flies one of the old aircrafts in Indonesia?

Regardless, is it really that low - one in 13 million? Statistically, perhaps. But for future forecast one must put the intelligence into it.

For example, if we will do some promotions three months from now, we gotta put in our best estimate of sales on that month, and not let statistical history figures forecast the sales. Especially if there hasn't been any regular promotion in that particular month in the past.

Through a friend who was visiting from Jakarta, I met these two Indonesian pilots of MAS and Lion Air (they were in the same company, Adam Air, if I'm not mistaken, before they parted their own way). It was around September 2006. Since these pilots haven't met each other for some time, they shared stories.

Apart from how the airlines industry has changed so much, their conversation was pretty much about flight attendants. Who slept with who. Who got this girl first. Who filmed who in what occasion. One even could persuade a flight attendant to sleep with him despite an approach from an Indonesian celebrity. And so on...

I've heard about this. But I've never heard directly from the one who did it. It was kinda fun at the beginning, but more of sick toward the end. With all my respect - what is wrong with the world?

A more recent one: "British actor caught in sky-high sex scandal." It was Ralph Fiennes in a flight on January 24, with a Qantas flight attendant who said:
"While conversing with Mr Fiennes during my break, I expressed a need to go to the toilet. I went to the nearby toilet and entered it, he followed me and entered the same toilet. I explained to him that this was inappropriate and asked him to leave. Mr Fiennes became amorous towards me and, after a short period of time, I convinced him to leave the toilet, which he did."
We can go into more detail... but I'd stop right here :)

It seems that when we fly, we are surrounded by more people who do adultery: some of the cabin crew and our fellow passengers, for relatively longer time.

Back to the intelligent forecasting. If we assume adultery is sinful and God will punish those who practice it, then won't it increase the chance of an airplane gets punished? If one can quantify the probability of getting punished because of sins, or being in the same place when the punishment happens, perhaps the one-in-13-million figure should be calibrated...