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By Inna Maltzeva, Chief Scientific Officer at PsyTech VR
June 15, 2022

Phobia of airplanes

Phobia of airplanes

Let's discuss aerophobia which is the fear of flying. It’s widespread and affects more than 25 million adults in the U.S.! Almost 1 in 10 Americans experience this fear and discard flying almost anywhere!

Like that famous song used to say:
“Country roads, here we go…”
And that’s where the journey of aerophobes starts when they decide to travel by car!

This fear can arise after a traumatic experience, or modelling someone else's experience or symbolic representation. People begin to avoid flying, limit themselves to road travel, etc.
Plane crashes are rare, but every incident attracts tons of attention as we can horrible pictures and videos including the wreckage from the crash site.
2021 - the first year after 2020 which seriously hearted airline business due to Covid-19 - was reported with 15 fatal air accidents that caused approximately 130 deaths according to the Flight Global research. Let’s compare this figure to the overall amount of passengers that used to fly in 2021, and it’s 2,28 bln people. The fatal situation happened only in 0,000000057017544% of cases. Don’t you find how tiny is this figure according to everyday car crashes, or other types of vehicles? But here we are not only to give facts but to discuss and find out the best ways of helping aviophobia patients.

Ways to treat fear

1. Academic

When experts explain the theory of aviation and aircraft construction. But this method does not always help to relax because natural disasters are often to blame for aviation accidents.

  • We all do understand that trying to get academic knowledge of aeronautical engineering is not the right way for people that work hard every day and use to choose between Netflix / interesting book and going to sleep 30 minutes earlier. Hand's full.
2. Cabin imitation

An imitation of an airplane cabin - a simulator, where a person gets used to and gets rid of a phobia by confronting his fear
  • Simulators of airplanes are the real training models that are mainly used for training pilots, and won’t come cheap (e.g. training in Boeing 737 Max simulator costs ~$450 per hour)

3. Mental Imagery

Classic Mental Exposure Therapy
  • While practising Mental Imagery people face hard challenges - the imagination of fears has a lack of immersion and the doctor won’t have control of your mind, which leads to misunderstandings of scenarios which patients are thought by doctors. Let’s be honest, sitting and trying to imagine that you are in the cabin of the aircraft won’t help you to feel in the air
4. The real-life experience of flying on airplane

  • Real-life therapy… Uh-Oh, let’s grab some BARF BAGS … please, fasten your seat belts! ;)
5. Virtual reality exposure therapy

People need an effective and safe tool, which will be easy to use and can be trained in the comfort of the home!

And here comes PsyTech VR, our team has developed a unique VR space that immerses a person in safe aerophobia training, assembled from 5+ levels. Learn courses on the platform, use guided phobia training in your Meta Quest headset, and get ready to forget about the fear!

Training levels in VR

Training levels in VR

You may wonder, “So many levels! Maybe the person needs to fly in a virtual aircraft?”

Our CSO - Inna Maltzeva - can answer this question:

To overcome a phobia, we need to help people virtually experience the full cycle of the fear: from virtual packaging of the luggage at home right to the landing of the plane. Using our learning management system, there is an opportunity to defeat the fear by learning professional Dr. advice on the platform, afterwards complete theory by practically training in virtual reality using Meta Quest!
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Inna Maltzeva
CSO at PsyTech VR

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