2014 has a been a disaster for the aviation industry. According to statistics, 2014 was the most fatal year since 2005. The disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight mh370 is still a mystery today, and coupled with the shooting down of another Malaysian airliner over a conflict region in Ukraine, and the recent Air Asia tragedy; the events of 2014 has proved just how complex and conflicted regulations within Airline industry can be.
8th of March– 239 Lives were lost in the MH370 inccident
17th July– 298 lives were lost in the second Malaysian Airlines inccident over Ukraine
24th of July– 116 lives lost in the Air Algerie crash near Gossi
28th December– 162 lives lost in the recent Air Asia crash in the Indian sea
Coupled with other incidents around the world involving smaller aircraft and fatalities figures, the total number of fatalities for 2014 is 1,320.
While 2014 is still far from being the deadliest year for flying, and is still one of the safest years to date; the above incidents (while all maintaining very unique and diverse circumstances) have resulted in the death of 100’s- friends, partners, children, parents- who should have arrived safely to their destinations.
As NTSB investigations are still ongoing, it can be presumed that factors pertaining to weather, airline error, pilot error and mechanical failure may have a played a part in one if not all of the events above. However, in this day and age, does it not seem slightly incredible that a passenger jet can be authorized to fly through a conflict airspace, and be subsequently shot down by military? That, despite years of training, a supposedly trained crew can lose control of an aircraft? Or that despite extremely advanced aviation and tracking technology, a commercial jet can simply vanish, all 239 lives with it?
Business is Business
It must always be born in mind that the commercial airline industry is a business, and when it comes to cutting costs and corners, airline giants are no strangers. To survive in an ever changing and competitive industry, Airlines are increasingly forced to find ways to reduce costs, but the extent to which these efforts jeopardize safety are ambiguous. Reducing fuel costs, maintenance costs and staff costs, will inevitably result in performance issues. Reluctance to recall faulty aircraft, or take longer routes to avoid bad weather on strict time schedules, all pave the way for discrepancies between safety and cost efficiency. This is not to imply that the industry actively seeks to endanger the lives of its flight crew and passengers; but rather that the events of 2014 have revealed, quite publicly, that airline procedures can be rife with error and poor judgement as result of the constant pressure to meet high demands, while maintaining low running costs.
We’ve all heard it before, “flying is the safest way to travel”. And, technically it is. but it depends on a significant number of factors, some of which are being unfortunately being compromised to meet business needs.
Flying is so many parts skill, so many parts planning, so many parts maintenance, and so many parts luck. The trick is to reduce the luck by increasing the others.
-David .L Baker