I’ve written a lot about EgyptAir lately and my takeaway is that the 777-300 Business Class experience is surprisingly pleasant. But is EgyptAir safe?
A Mixed Safety Record
EgyptAir has been around since 1932 so not surpassingly, has suffered a number of crashes and hijackings over its 85 year life.
Most people think about the 2016 MS804 Paris to Cairo crash when discussing EgyptAir safety. My mind goes to MS990 from LAX to CAI via JFK in 1999. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) attributed the crash to the deliberate action by the relief first officer. His last recorded words on the flight black box were, “I made my decision now. I put my faith in God’s hands.” Meanwhile, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) determined the crash was caused by a mechanical failure of the aircraft’s elevator control system. Of course both reasons are possible–the mechanical failure may well have occurred, but it seems indisputable the co-pilot failed to stabilize a problem that could have been stabilized.
There has also been the MS181 hijacking last March (no death or injuries), MS321 in 1976 (no death or injuries), the crash of MS763 in 1972 (all 30 onboard killed), the crash of MS864 in 1976 (all 52 onboard killed), the crash of MS843 in 2002 (3/6 crew, 11/56 passengers dead) and the MS648 hijacking in 1985 that led to the death of 2/6 crew and 59/90 passengers after a mission to storm the aircraft and rescue passengers backfired.
Why I’ll Still Fly EgytpAir
Are there statistically safer airlines? Absolutely. But I still would not let that stop me from EgyptAir.
A pilot flew a Germanwings flight (airline is owned by Lufthansa) into a mountain last year. Does that mean I will now avoid all Lufthansa Group flights? Of course not.
You many point to EgyptAir’s longer mixed safety record and the fact that Egyptian authorities seem to have a “head in the sand” mentality when it comes to frank discussion on its safety record. I will concede that point.
But I will also continue to dispute that you are putting life at greater risk by flying on EgyptAir than by driving to the airport or riding your bike down a sidewalk or even sitting at your desk at home looking out the window.
Check out this MIT study of your odds of dying–
DEATH BY: YOUR ODDS
- Cardiovascular disease: 1 in 2
- Smoking (by/before age 35): 1 in 600
- Car trip, coast-to-coast: 1 in 14,000
- Bicycle accident: 1 in 88,000
- Tornado: 1 in 450,000
- Train, coast-to-coast: 1 in 1,000,000
- Lightning: 1 in 1.9 million
- Bee sting: 1 in 5.5 million
- U.S. commercial jet airline: 1 in 7 million
Let’s grant that EgyptAir is not as safe as a U.S. commercial airliner. You are still more likely to die by lightning or a bee sting than flying on EgyptAir.
One reason we read about more air accidents is because airline travel continues to proliferate. More airliners are in the sky than ever before and that means, statistically speaking, that we would expect even more crashes, but the odds of a crash have dropped even further (by some measures to as much a 1 in 29 million) since the study above was published. We are in a golden age of aviation safety.
The Upside to Flying on EgyptAir
To those who say, yes, yes — the risk is low, but it is still a risk not worth taking, I offer this response.
What if you want to take the family on a safari to South Africa or Kenya and EgyptAir is the only reasonably-priced option with business class award space? Flying on EgyptAir was a pleasure. I boarded my flight expecting the worst and ready to publish a scathing review, but was blown away at how comfortable the flight was. Take it from me–I just want to help you get the most bang for your buck and EgyptAir business class space without fuel surcharges is often the only answer. It is worth it.
I realize my reasoning will not be persuasive to all, but I do hope you will think crtically about EgyptAir before instinctively rejecting it. Statistically speaking, the airline remains extremely safe. Furthermore, the experience onboard is pleasant. Therefore, I recommend it and would take my wife and child on it in a heartbeat.