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Air Crash Investigation to be replaced with nicer, more realistic alternative

Scenes like these are not usual for a plane, says aviation safety expert John DeLisi.

Scenes like these are not usual for a plane, says aviation safety expert John DeLisi.

National Geographic’s award-winning Air Crash Investigation, also known as Mayday in the United States, is set to be replaced by a less scary version that paints a more balanced and realistic picture of air travel.

The television show, which has been airing since 2003, explores the details of investigations into disasters involving commercial aircraft, but critics have been arguing for some time that the show scares audiences unnecessarily, and has contributed to a widespread and irrational fear of flying.

John DeLisi, Director of Aviation Safety at the U.S. National Transport Safety Board, said that the show could be misleading when viewed out of context.

“If you include air travel statistics from all around the globe, including some of the world’s least safe airlines, then over the course of their entire lifetime, the average person has a 1 in 20,000 chance of dying in a plane crash,” he said. “But if you were a regular viewer of Air Crash Investigation¸ you might think those chances were closer to 1 in 1.”

In a statement released this morning, National Geographic acknowledged that discrepancy and the lack of balance in its programming, and vowed to rectify the problem by replacing the show with a new one called Air Travel Investigation.

Air Travel Investigation will feature in-depth analyses of commercial flights that took off and landed safely without incident, and seek to ascertain why nothing at all went wrong.

“The first episode of Air Travel Investigation will air next week,” read the statement. “It will follow the story of 28 year old Sarah Jefferies, whose routine flight from Richmond to Atlanta takes a dramatic turn at a bank of 30 degrees towards the runway and lands there.”

National Geographic said it hoped that the new show would reassure its viewers about air travel, and encourage them to finally get on a plane.

“I haven’t flown in years,” said New York resident Trudy Fallbrook, who watches Air Crash Investigation regularly. “I just assumed I’d die in a horrible explosion.”

Today’s announcement comes as the Discovery Channel plans to release a more realistic version of Man vs. Wild where host Bear Grylls repeatedly dies.