Is the Back of the Plane Really Safer?

Sitting next to me in the airport, Anderson asks, “Where’s your seat?”

“Second row from the back.”

“Why?”

“That’s where your odds of survival are greatest.”

He laughs for 30 seconds and asks if that’s really true, and I can’t remember where I read it. I just fired up my laptop to do a little work, and I’d hate to be spreading misinformation, so I look it up.

Google result

Shit. “I’ve heard this myth so many times and there’s just nothing to support it,” said Nora Marshall, who’s spent 24 years investigating plane crash survivability at the National Transportation Safety Board, in an ABC News article.

But Nora appears to be wrong. The very next result is a Popular Mechanics analysis of 36 years of NTSB crash data from flights with fatalities and survivors that concludes passengers in the back are indeed more likely to live.

Air accident survival rates by seat location

They calculated the average fore-and-aft seating position of fatalities and survival rates for four sections of the aircraft.

“Both analytical approaches clearly pointed to the same conclusion: It’s safer in the back.”

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