When Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed in San Francisco International Airport on Saturday, all but two of the 307 passengers on board survived.
For aviation experts, the survival rate in that crash isn’t surprising: for every 100 million passengers who travel on airplanes worldwide, just two are killed. It’s a statistic that might surprise the public, though, given air travel’s high speeds and altitudes, but as technology improves, experts say plane safety is drastically lowering the fatality rates of crashes.
Regulations require planes to have an evacuation plan that can empty the vessel in less than 90 seconds, even if half the exits are blocked, and seats are built to protect passengers in case of impact—improvements made in response to previous crashes.
Years ago, air travel wasn’t as safe—from the early 1960s to the 1980s, 54% of passengers involved in a crash perished. In the last quarter century, the fatality rate of plane crashes has fallen to 39%.
“We saw so many people walk away and what’s really important is for people to understand that airplane crashes, the majority of them, are survivable,” said National Travel Safety Board Chair Deborah Hersman this weekend, following the crash.
For more on the investigation into the crash, watch Hersman’s interview on Morning Joe below.