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Air transport still safest despite recent mishaps

By Admin

Added 24th May 2016 01:03 PM

Pieces of belongings, life vests, and aircraft parts and so on, have been retrieved. Which indicates that these items are from this missing aircraft

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Pieces of belongings, life vests, and aircraft parts and so on, have been retrieved. Which indicates that these items are from this missing aircraft

By Simon J Mone

Once again, we are facing up to the harsh reality of another aviation misfortune. Shocking pictures are starting to emerge, announcing the whereabouts of EgyptAir’s Airbus, A320 aircraft.

Pieces of belongings, life vests, and aircraft parts and so on, have been retrieved. Which indicates that these items are from this missing aircraft. So we now know that Egypt’s workhorse of the sky plunged at the Mediterranean Sea. And yet again, we feel for relatives and families of passengers that have been killed in this latest disaster.

Now-a-days, aircraft accidents are starting to look as if they are an endless sequence of events. Mimicking what we see happening with other modes of transportation.

To make matters even more saddening, safety records of recent years have been punctuated by one aircraft disaster after another. For example, in less than a year, two Malaysian aircraft were mercilessly hit, suffering major setbacks involving their two large aircraft. On board were a combined total of 537 souls. One aircraft was forcefully brought down by a group of insurgents over Ukraine.

And 298 people died. It must be noted that that this one in particular, in many ways does not constitute an accident. It was a deliberate act of banditry. Another, its disappearance still remains a mystery to aviation experts. Then there was a crash that happened to AirAsia. It was heading to Singapore from Indonesia. Investigations say it fell off the sky while trying to avoid bad weather. And it dipped into Java Sea with all 162 people on board.

This, together with a few others make Asia-Pacific region begin to look like accidents queuing up to occur there. A lot of aircraft accidents have been reported in that part of the globe lately. Record books include Taiwan, Indonesia, Laos and Nepal, with many fatalities. Thing is that it is not just the accidents that aviation authorities must lose sleep over, but the fact that aircraft crash events are happening with very little warning time. It leaves pilots with no chance to perform miracles.

They cannot save the day and maybe try to reverse whatever befalls their aircraft. This is the bitter truth about aviation calamities of now-a-days. Against this background therefore, can we speculate, with some certainty, if or not, aviation has becoming less safe? And pose some questions as to whether we should hit the panic button already? I say, no. Not yet a moment to worry whether air transport is now more dangerous than it was before.

In fact, statistics are available to lift a huge burden of load off shoulders of aviation experts. Reports state that in 2014 alone, there was one fatal accident per 2.23 million flights. And in the previous year, it was one in 1.91 million flights. These figures of aircraft crashes together with fatalities therefore don’t warrant any panic yet.

So we can state with some reasonable degree of confidence that air travel is still safe. Now we delve into the reason for insistence that flying is still safer even with these setbacks recently.

We owe aviation safety to technological and continuous process improvements. Every aircraft accident event experienced always teaches aviation personnel new things. Upon investigation, recommendations are made for solutions. If findings are such that there was a technical fault, then such faults are corrected.

Like parts are re-designed and tested before sending the aircraft back to service. If foul play is the cause, a more stringent operating environment is added. For instance additional procedures are developed to address such gaps. So, yes, we can say that despite recent aircraft calamities, air travel still remains the safest.

The writer is a civil engineer

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