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What is the safest seat on an airplane in the event of a crash? Results are surprising


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While airplane crashes may be relatively rare when compared to other crashes like automobile crashes, they do happen.

Airplane crashes even happen on the ground. 

A collision between a passenger bus and a commercial plane on the Los Angeles International Airport tarmac late Friday night left several people injured, according to officials, as Fox News Digital reported.

Airline passengers, particularly those who may enter an aircraft with some level of fear about flying, may wonder: What is the safest seat on an airplane in the event of a crash?

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"I always try to sit over the wing. I have always heard that is the safest — and it’s near the emergency exits," one frequent flyer from Baltimore, Maryland, told Fox News Digital.

She added, "When the flight attendants ask the people in the emergency evacuation rows if they are able to assist other passengers, I always hope that they really can help us, should they need to."

Universities and the FAA, among others, have done research on seat location and survival.

The University of Greenwich in London determined in a study that those passengers sitting closest to an emergency exit had the best chance of getting out alive after a crash, according to aviation website Simpleflying.com.

"This is particularly key to survival in post-crash fires," the site notes.

It all depends, however, on what type of crash the airplane has.

Logically, if the plane's tail takes the brunt of the impact, "passengers in the back will fare worse," that website also says.

If the nose of the airplane were to have impact first, "the people in the front of the aircraft would come off worse."

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"Since planes do not fly into mountains backward, and the fact you nearly always see a tail fin in the wreckage, logic would suggest that sitting at the back of the plane would be the safest," the site points out.

In April 2012, a group of Mexican scientists deliberately crashed a Boeing 727 to study the effects of impact, as Simpleflying.com noted. 

"While this had been done before," the purpose of the experiment was different, as they wanted to examine passengers' survival chances in different parts of the aircraft.

The same site said, "Their findings showed that those at the front faced the greatest risk, with the danger decreasing the further back you went."

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a database of accident records, including both fatalities and survivors along with seating charts, according to aviation website 14daypilot.com.

The report was done over a 35-year period; the first report originated in 1985 and the last in 2020.

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"We were able to observe that those seated at the back part, or more [well] known as the back third, of the aircraft had a 32% fatality rate," the site reports, citing a TIME analysis of the data.

"The middle third and the front third of the aircraft had a fatality rate of 39% and 38% respectively." 

Factoring in row position, the report said the middle seat in the rear of the aircraft "had the best position, with just [a] 28% fatality rate," 14daypilot.com said.

"The worst part to sit … is actually on the aisle of the middle third of the cabin as it comes at a 44% fatality rate," the same site said. 

"Flying is actually one of the safest methods of travel, sitting at a probability of 1 in 9,821 chance of dying on an air travel incident," the site also reports.

A Boston-based business professional who flies often said that he "doesn’t really think about safety" when he chooses his seat. 

"I think about not being in the middle, for comfort reasons," he said.

He added, "I like to have an aisle seat — it gives me more room, and I don’t feel so closed in."

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One woman in New York who often travels to see a family member across the country said she, too, prefers an aisle seat, and "usually in the first third of the plane, just because it's easier to get on and get off" that way. 

She added, "I might give more thought to safety considerations going forward."

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