1 of 5 - Safety & Security Week
The recent death of a GB Airways co-pilot while in-flight makes one think about the question, what if both pilots die at the controls? The only answer is that you have two pilots, the pilot in charge and the co-pilot, each backs the other up. But if both die your in trouble. If this scares you and leads you to wonder what happens if both pilots die, you have a point. But if this concerns you you will need to add lots of other things to your list to worry about.
First thing to add to the list is the fact that many overseas flights have two engines. Yes just two engines. Planes can fly pretty well on one engine, but loose both and your out of luck big time. Having flown the LAX HNL, Los Angeles to Honolulu, route dozens of times the thought of loosing both engines has crossed my mind. But having a Father who designed jet engines for a living makes me much more concerned about engines and flight controls than the health of the two pilots.
Most commercial airplane systems, including pilots, have a back-up. Two pilots, two engines, two radios, etc. Most in-flight problems which take out both primary and secondary systems are due to human error. My Father's experience showed that the most common error for loosing both engines was a pilot switching the engines to an empty fuel tank. He specialized in maintainablity and reliability of both commercial and military jet engine design for General Electric.
If your still a bit scared of getting on the flight, here are some things you can do to improve your odds if you are involved in an air disaster. Wear long sleeve shirt and long pants made of natural fiber. Count the rows to the nearest exit doors. Understand how to open airplane doors. Keep your seat belt buckled at all times. Reduce your breathing rate if smoke is present. Inflate your life vest after you leave the plane. Leave your bags behind.