A few things that might enlighten your dinner-table discussions:
- FAA sets a limit on pilots of 100 flight hours in any 28-day period. If your route is trans-Pacific, that means you do no more than four round trips a month. If there are four pilots on each flight, and the plane often is auto-landed, how proficient do you think pilots are at hand-landing the plane?
- News reports indicate police had to throw knives up to the flight crew to free passengers from their seats. Thanks to TSA policy, no one on the plane had, or could have had, a knife to help himself or other passengers. Imagine slightly different circumstances--open field, slower response, faster fire--and this policy could have fried people alive.
- There's a decades-old joke that in the future, planes will each have a man and a dog in the cockpit. The man will be there to watch the computer, the dog to bite him if he touches anything. Too long in the making?