Safety culture 1

There is no safer way to travel any given distance than by air. Under following circumstances: You fly with a renowned airline with a longstanding uncompromising safety culture; with a well maintained aircraft (doesn’t have to be brand new) with adequate fuel reserves, in an area with good air traffic control, between to major airports with modern (read long enough) runways and all-weather navigational aids -and with well-trained cockpit- and cabin crew that have duty times not causing fatigue.

The safety culture of the airline will basically cover all of the above. In these circumstances weather is no factor. As strange as it may sound, when blizzards approach you don’t take a bike ride, media advices you not to drive your car, busses are cancelled, ships stay in the harbor, trains have trees block their tracks – and planes still fly.

When something goes wrong, like an air disaster, things surface during ensuing investigations into all areas of what could have contributed to the accident. The follow up of low-cost carrier Lion Air’s crash recently has some disturbing ingredients, possibly shared by any airline needing to cut costs.

Lion Air’s latest crisis illustrates the challenge relatively new carriers face as they try to keep pace with unstoppable demand for air travel in developing nations while striving for standards that mature markets took decades to reach. Interviews with dozens of Lion Air’s management personnel and flight and ground crew members, as well as Indonesian investigators and airline analysts, paint a picture of a carrier so obsessed with growth that it has failed to build a proper safety culture.

”What I saw was a company, from the top down, that made saving money a motto – so spend the minimum on pilot training, salaries, management, everything,” said one former safety manager. Members of its flight and maintenance crews, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid losing their jobs, say they were pressured to keep double logs in order to hide overwork and inattention to safety. Pilots said they resorted to using methamphetamine to survive the grueling hours. ”As long as the priority is getting airplanes in the sky rather than safety, then you’re going to have problems,” said a former government investigator.

The last two paragraphs are quotes from a more extensive report on the accident. The contrast to what is mentioned in the first paragraph should raise an eyebrow with even the most enthusiastic I-got-my-ticket-for-almost-nothing-passenger. In Europe, Asia, America and basically all over the world the threat of too much cost-cutting is for anyone to judge. No real reason to scare anyone since nothing newer happens, with a very few exemptions.

The first paragraph may be used as a guideline should anyone so desire.


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