There's been so much speculation and conjecture as to what happened to Malaysia 370. We're going to try to bring some perspective to all the various theories, even answer some of the most often asked, but least answered questions in tonight's special live broadcast.
One thing this mystery has done is to cause a lot of people to fear getting on an airliner. Now, let me just say that's one thing I'm not afraid of. And that's a good thing because sometimes I fly as much as 6 days in a week, and rarely less than 3 or 4 times a week.
If I was afraid to fly, I'd be out of business. Now there are some things I'm afraid of. I'm afraid of snakes, spiders, New York cab drivers, ladders, and I'm afraid of Harry Reid still being the majority leader after this year's elections.
I'm also afraid of jumping out of airplanes -- I don't do that, but I am not afraid of flying in one. Statistically, commercial air travel in this country is about the safest mode of transportation we have. Per passenger mile, it's safer than a car, bus, train, or walking. It's not perfect, but over the years, it's about as close as humans can get. And it's one instance in which the government is partially responsible for getting it right.
The safety standards we require are extraordinary. Not only of the operations of the aircraft, but in the way they are built, tested, and certified to fly. A lot of the credit for that goes to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is one of the most effective government agencies in carrying out its mission and which learns from every air mishap, then incorporates those lessons in law and policy.
And a lot of credit goes to the airlines themselves, greatly underappreciated for their dogged determination to put safety first in their operations, and understandably so. An airline disaster resulting in a crash and the loss of lives costs millions in litigation, reparations, and costs the carrier unbelievable sums due to bad publicity and the loss of trust from the public. That results in diminished revenues and it can take decades to recover.
The qualifications that are required for pilots on the mainline carriers is stringent, but I don't want you to think that the safety issue is left only with those up front in the cockpit. The flight attendants on your flight -- they're not just there to toss snacks and serve drinks at 35,000 feet, they are highly trained professionals. They stand ready to risk their own lives to get you safely out of that plane should something go wrong.
The men and women in the back of the plane are a major reason you fly safely, as are the folks you never even see, like the airframe and power plant mechanics who carry out the intensive maintenance on those planes and the ground crew who check and double check that plane from nose to tail every time it lands.
An incident like Malaysia 370 is scary and might cause you to want to forego flying. I say, don't let it keep you off a plane. There's a far greater likelihood that you'd slip in the shower and crack your skull -- or for that matter, there's a bigger chance of getting run over by Santa and his reindeer than losing your life in a commercial airliner. Now I realize when I get on a plane, I'm putting my life in God's hands and in the hands of that crew. But I'm in pretty good hands.