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A tragic week for aviation

Over the past week, the world has witnessed one of the worst periods in recent history, with a slew of aircraft accidents beginning with the downing of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 over Ukraine. How does this affect our industry?




The aviation community is celebrating 100 years of commercial flight this year. An astonishing 65 billion passengers has been carried around the globe since the first commercial flight. Amid all the tragedies that occurred during that time, the industry continues to grow and become even more robust.

Over the past week, the world has witnessed one of the worst periods in recent history, with a slew of aircraft accidents beginning with the downing of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 over Ukraine. The unfortunate shooting down of the plane cost the loss of almost 300 lives that were far removed from the conflict that is raging on in the country. This came on the heels of another one of their aircraft which vanished without a trace in March.

The news of a commuter plane crash in Taiwan amidst bad weather was quickly followed by another disappearance off radar of a jetliner in Africa. These are all random events in three continents that do not necessarily mean that flying is becoming unsafe.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global accident rate for last year was 0.41 per every million flights. This statistic includes accidents involving scheduled passenger airlines, charter airlines and cargo flights. This was the safest year on record in recent times with only 210 fatalities of the more than 3 billion passengers that flew.

When accidents happen, it is a chilling reminder that more needs to be done as the industry rapidly expands. Experts project that the next 65 billion passengers will be transported in the next 15 years. This exponential growth suggests that there is a greater potential for aircraft accidents, but accident investigators are leaving no stones unturned to find out the causes of these accidents and apply the lessons learned.

Air travelers can also take comfort in that fact that aviation professionals are managing safety proactively by identifying potential hazards and applying mitigating measures before they lead to undesirable events.

Air transportation is a multi-billion dollar industry that drives global commerce. Together with training, regulations and modern technology, stakeholders are locked in a cycle to constantly review its activities and improve safety. Collectively, these measures make the industry anti-fragile as the likelihood of accidents reoccurring from the same causes is reduced or eliminated.

Together with the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the disasters this week have pushed airline fatalities this year to around 700 — the most since 2010.

A statement on IATA’s website said “Safeguarding our customers from harm as we transport them around the world is core to the mission of the aviation industry. It has been that way throughout our development over the last century. And we continue to do everything in our power to make flying ever safer.”

Each of us in the aviation industry have a role to play in making aviation safer and these events are a wake up call to rededicate our energies to make this happen.




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About Wayne Farley

Wayne Farley

I am Wayne, an aviation safety evangelist who once made my living working in the control tower. Engage me while I share my thoughts, experience, and news from the aviation world. After writing "13 Characteristics of an air traffic controller" in 2010, it went viral and established me as an unofficial ambassador for ATC.

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