Deadly plunge

The headline does not apply to the airline industry economy in general, flight safety in general, Boeings reputation in general, but to the unfortunate flight that went down two days ago in Indonesia. That it was a Boeing 737 aircraft has nothing to do with the MAX-debacle that has badly bruised Boeing. Boeing has built in excess of 10.000 737 in different versions, so there is a good chance it is a Boeing anytime something happens. That it happened to a low-cost airline has necessarily nothing to do with the accident either, even though the airline has a tarnished safety record, with 4 previous fuselage write-offs since 2008, due to botched landings and runway overruns. They had up to now caused no fatalities, except for a farmer they hit at one of the overruns. When facts are available, there will most likely be need for further discussions.

In that discussion there will probably also be need for a repetition of the fact that safety cost money, and that people still are allowed to fly too cheap. Repetitions are boring, but safety issues not addressed by those responsible (red authorities – and managements to some degree, though only trying to survive fierce competition) needs be repeated. The post-pandemic re-start will pose some safety issues with maintenance concerns and rusty pilots. Qantas has allegedly planned for a full week of pilot training, before lade-off pilots are back on board. That this will be an industry-wide standard in cost-cutting times is a wet dream at best. (Check end of this article for 20 safest airlines).

Boeing has got one fat bill out of many. 2,5 Billion USD. (In metric countries 1000 millions are called something else.) That shall cover fines for misleading FAA and airlines in various ways, big or small, and settlements also with bereaved families. That is but a fraction of what the total cost will be when the bottom line is drawn, if it ever will be, including lost sales, returns, re-organization and a trade mark damage of historic proportions. It’s hard to wrap your head around a figure like 2,5 Billion USD. Most people can relate to 1 million USD. Like approx. 10 Ferraris. A Billion is something different. If one million corresponds to JFK runway 31L, a billion is like the distance between New York and Las Vegas. 2,5 billion will take you to Honolulu. (The bottom line will take you several orbits around the globe.)

Some up-lifting news for Boeing lovers: un-grounding is progressing as planned, some areas already ok, led by USA where AA made a Miami-New York round trip two days before the end of last year. Other areas are expected to follow shortly, where Europe and most Far East countries has decided to have their own evaluation, not trusting FAA for good reason, even though FAA has re-shuffled its ideas of supervisions. Another up-lifting piece of news for the hard pressed Boeing management, including a show of good faith, is that Alaska Airlines are getting rid of Airbus aircraft, going for an all-Boeing fleet, and ordering some 50 new Boeing MAX in the process.

A plunge for another – for generations outstanding – reputation is possibly in the pipeline for SAS, first kneeling for low-cost competition and now for pandemic consequences, firing a lot of their own pilots and cabin crew, starting a low-cost competition i.e. with itself, from a tax-haven, i.e. Ireland. Safety depends on pilots, and on cabin crew when pilots or other factors cause an emergency. Pilots are as safe as they are trained and scheduled, as long as they are suitable for the job in the first place. The fired pilots were on record for decades, well known by their chief pilots, including simulator training results, and they had a pilots union, making sure safety was not infringed upon. The CEO Rickard Gustafson has resigned his position. Shares will tell a story.

The top twenty safest airlines as promised, by a rating including incident and accident statistics and among other things fleet age: 1. Qantas 2. Qatar Airways 3. Air New Zealand 4. Singapore Airlines 5. Emirates 6. EVA Air 7. Etihad Airways 8. Alaska Airlines 9. Cathay Pacific Airways 10. British Airways 11. Virgin Australia/Virgin Atlantic 12. Hawaiian Airlines 13. Southwest Airlines 14. Delta Air Lines 15. American Airlines 16. SAS 17. Finnair 18. Lufthansa 19. KLM 20. United Airlines. Two low-cost out of twenty.

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