Mach 2

The quest for supersonic travel is – as mentioned in a previous article – after a dormant period revitalized substantially. Several companies are struggling with aircraft design in various sizes and shapes. It’s been 17 years since the last flight of the Concorde and now one prototype is scheduled for its first flight before the end of next year. Most manufacturers are so far aiming for the business jet segment with less than 20 passengers but one company stands out. With the suitable company name Boom Overture, the development of a 55 seat premium aircraft is leading the race for speed. All available modern efficiency parameters are involved in the design, including engines with no need for afterburners. It will be slightly faster (M 2,2) than the Concorde with a slightly longer range while being able to offer ticket prices at a quarter of that for Concorde – or rather similar to a normal business class ticket. Extensive test flights are planned for two years and hopes are high that it will be in commercial use by the end of next decade. Orders are already being placed by airlines including Virgin Atlantic and Japan Airlines.

Others are following. Worth mentioning is the plans by Virgin Galctic for the Virgin Galactic Mach 3, initially planned for 19 passengers, but with the ambition to up-size to a bigger version more suitable for airlines, where the speed would be the competitive edge. Spike is another company focusing on long range (11.500 km) and efficiency with a reduced sonic boom, and with a windowless cabin with external images projected inside. The number of passengers not certain.

Most spectacular is a Mach 5 project by Lockeed Martin together with NASA, initially not planned for, but at a later stage developed for passenger use, if all goes well. Now we are talking hypersonic.

So if you ”feel the need for speed”, the future looks bright, or at least better than before. That goes for just about everything these days, and anyone reading this; have a Happy New Year.

Here we go again

The first 737 MAX to take to the sky with passengers will today (Wednesday December 9:th) be flown by GOL, Brazils largest domestic airline (127 jets whereof 7 are MAX). It is a cautious move, they so far have not stated which route and passengers are allowed to switch to other equipment, should they want to.
American is planning a flight before years end New York- Miami.

On the east side of the Atlantic the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) expects to clear the MAX in Januari 2021. It will be a lengthy process with a long follow-up of the aircrafts performance once cleared.
What they will look for before ungrounding is listed below.

Software updates for the flight control computer, including the MCAS
Software updates to display an alert in case of disagreement between the two AoA sensors
Physical separation of wires routed from the cockpit to the stabiliser trim motor
Updates to flight manuals: operational limitations and improved procedures to equip pilots to understand and manage all relevant failure scenarios
Mandatory training for all 737 MAX pilots before they fly the plane again, and updates of the initial and recurrent training of pilots on the MAX
Tests of systems including the AoA sensor system
An operational readiness flight, without passengers, before commercial usage of each aircraft to ensure that all design changes have been correctly implemented and the aircraft successfully and safely brought out of its long period of storage.

So, after almost two years, there is hope for the future, but the costliest ever, in history worldwide, company bad luck – read mismanagement – has all but ruined the company economically, surviving on military contracts and some sales of 767, 777 and freighter versions of 747-8. In excess of 60 billion USD, it has surpassed the previous number one, the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig owned by BP. The difference is that BP survived without loosing a lot of public trust. Boeing has a longer road ahed. So does FAA for their role in what is an unprecedented aviation industry management catastrophe.


FAA boss Steve Dickson signed an order today (19/11) that paves the way for the 737MAX to return to commercial service. Don’t expect to see it in the air in another month or two. There are extensive programs to bring aircraft out of long-term storage, pilots have to be trained and there are still some changes to be made. Further more, flight safety agencies outside the USA, have expressed well motivated mistrust with the FAA by stating that they will make their own evaluation.

No easy ride ahead. Airlines are re-naming the aircraft B737-8 or -9, and at the same time stating that passengers reluctant to fly the plane don’t have to.

Sad story all together. Money talks – and saving money by corner-cutting talks even louder. The aftermath of the Boeing decision to leave the previous company policy of safety, no matter how costly, – and FAA willing to play along (or kept in the dark) – will have courts busy for years.

On a positive note, things blow over. Over time, most of this will hopefully be forgotten, provided the aircraft performs as expected. It is after all the most checked and rechecked plane around. And Boeing can count on the fact that most passengers don’t know much about anything when it comes to what airline or aircraft they fly with. Some state they flew with Thomas Cook or something. And some don’t care, like the 39 year old Florida engineer; ”Flying is a commodity. I’ll fly on whatever the cheapest ticket gets me.”

To say – let’s hope he doesn’t live to regret that – comes out incongruous here.

Corona flight safety + B737

A new aspect of flight safety differs from what is normally the focus of this blog, but why not, there is not much else to address concerning an industry almost at a stand still. (When a US carrier looses 1 billion USD/month catastrophy is an understatement.) During the last couple of months people have experienced the regular birdstrikes, turbulence, engine failures and smoke in cabin/cockpit and runway excursions. Simply because there are birds around, turbulence here and there, engines needs maintenance and runways are too short in many places.

So whats new? Safe Travel Barometers has checked the risk of being infected onboard during the Corona pandemi and produced a flight safety rating based on ventilation, face masks, disinfection frequency and 23 other such parameters. And now we have a Covid-19 Airline Rating. They even have scores. Highest is 5.0 and lowest 0.1. None of 230 airlines evaluated reached top score (whatever that means) and none scored bottom. Emirates made first place, not all that surprisingly.

PERFECT: The Safest Airlines in the world with a score of 4.0 and above
Emirates : 4.4Etihad Airways: 4.3Qatar Airways: 4.2Singapore Airlines: 4.1Iberia: 4.1Vistara 4.1Air France: 4.1Air China 4.1Lufthansa 4.1Oman Air 4.1Delta Airlines: 4.1Virgin Atlantic 4.0Korean Air 4.0Southwest Airlines: 4.0Cathay Pacific: 4.0IndiGo: 4.0EVA Air: 4.0Asiana Airlines: 4.0Qantas Airways: 4.0Garuda Indonesia: 4.0

Above average and acceptable: 3.5 – 3.9
THai Viet Jet Air: 3.5Batik Air: 3.5Jet Smart 3.5Jazeera AirwaysMalindo Air 3.5Air Mauritius: 3.5Ryanair: 3.5Canary Fly 3.5Amaszonas 3.5Lanmei Airlines: 3.5Hainan Airlines: 3.5Finnair 3.5JetSmart 3.5Air Austral 3.5Air Tahiti 3.5SAS Scandinavian Airlines 3.5Czech Airlines : 3.5Blue Air 3.6Air Astana 3.6Anadolu Jet 3.6Air Greenland 3.6West Jet 3.6Flynas 3.6Ukraine International Airlines 3.6Citilink 3.6Blue Air 3.6Air Seychelles 3.6Air Belgium 3.6Air Greenland 3.6Japan Airlines 3.6Binter Canarias 3.6Aer Lingus 3.6Scoot 3.7Air New Zealand: 3.7Swiss Airlines: 3.7Shandong Airlines: 3.7Air Transat: 3.8Corsair: 3.7Malaysia Airlines 3.7French Bee: 3.7Air Tahiti Nui: 3.7Transavia France 3.7Jetstar Asia 3.8Air Asia 3.8Spice Jet 3.8Africa World Airlines: 3.8Copa Airlines: 3.8Indonesia Air Asia: 3.8Air North 3.8Allegiant Air 3.8Lufthansa City Line 3.8All Nippon Airways 3.8Africa World Airlines 3.8American Airlines 3.8Copa Airlines 3.8Royal Jordanian 3.8Vietnam AirlinesKLM 3.8Philippine Airlines 3.9Thai Airways 3.9Saudia 3.9Air India 3.9Eurowings 3.9Alaska Airlines 3.9Vueling 3.9Fly Dubai 3.9Ethiopian Airlines 3.9Cebu Pacific 3.9China Eastern Airlines 3.9United Airlines 3.9

There’s no need to elaborate further since passengers normally don’t think twice about what airline they fly with, as long as they don’t have to pay what it cost (to fly safe).

To something more interesting, especially for Boeing lovers. (There are some hardcore fans still around. American Airlines for one, who has chosen Boeing over Airbus for its wide-body operations.) The recent black sheep of the family is getting a new chance in a few days if everything goes according to plan. B737 MAX will fly again. It will take most of a month to get planes and pilots in shape for normal operations. Most likely the ”MAX” name will silently disappear, and possibly replaced by something else. American Airlines plans to re-introduce ”the most scrutinized aircraft in the world” on Dec. 29 between Miami and New York.

Boeing lovers might also find some weird joy in the fact that Singapore Airlines currently has so little demand for their A380 aircraft that it converted one into a pop-up restaurant, Restaurant A380@Changi. The A380 maintained it luxury cachet to the end. Meals on Singapore Air’s plane-turned-restaurant range up to $400, depending on which cabin class you paid to sit in.

Finally, PIA will most likely be forced to fly domestic only, at least for some time, since a ban is likely to most of the rest of the world, following their latest crash in Karachi, revealing the fact that almost one third of their pilots had fake licences.

Their Covid-19 rating is unknown.

Two aspects of low-cost policy on aviation

Safety always depend on pilots and aircraft (and sometimes on cabin crew and ground equipment). How the aircraft is operated and how it is constructed (and for that matter maintained). The development in recent years has seen a downturn in both areas. Safety has been affected by itself, i.e. by the extremely high level of flight safety, where companies and authorities has found no reason, in todays economic squeeze, to maintain the vigilance of previous decades, since everything is going so well. Pilots are less trained and more depended on automation, while aircraft manufacturers are shortcutting quality in lieu of profit. From that has come numerous incidents and needless number of fatal accidents as well as groundings of plane for months or years.

1 —————————————————————————————————————————————

One viewpoint from an unknown source – though depressing reading for a Boeing lover – is worth reciting in its entirety. Feel free to agree or disagree. There is at least some truth to what is said:

Is it possible that Boeing will decide to permanently halt production of the 737 Max in the very near future?

No. Like the Bruce Springsteen song, they took a wrong turn and they just kept going. To understand the 737 max, one has to go back in time to 1987, when Airbus unveiled the A320. Any aeronautical engineer would be able to tell you that the A320 was far superior in scalability in the future. Boeing should have started a clean-sheet replacement for the 737 that day. But, since they had already sold so many, they continued making them and sellin them, as they were still competitive with the A320.

However, advances in engine technology require larger fans on the engine. The 737 was designed when engines were fitted with small fans, and was meant to be a regional jet. The 737 sits too low on the ground for large-fan engines, which the A320 can readily take. When Airbus was able to fit even larger engines on their A320 NEO, Boeing finally had to face the music. But by then, two huge airlines operated 737 exclusively: Southwest and Ryanair. Their entire profitability is predicated on flying this single model. Like an addict who can’t get enough, they convinced Boeing they could not live without the 737.

By then, Boeing had also stopped being an engineering company that sold the best aircraft to airlines and the government, and had moved to Chicago, to be a company that creates wealth for shareholders. It still made airplanes, but for management it meant nothing, they could be making underwear for all they cared. All that mattered was the stock price and that juicy year-end bonus.

So they browbeated the engineers to somehow strap a huge engine to and old frame AND to figure a way to make the plane look the same to pilots, because otherwise Southwest and Ryanair would have to spend more money training pilots on how to fly it. So they concocted a poorly designed system called MCAS whose purpose was to make the Max feel like a 737 NG to pilots, so they would not need to be certified on a different type. They had a cozy relationship with the FAA so they were able to pass that.

Just so they could keep the money flowing from those addicted airlines to their pockets. The system was so poorly designed that it crashed two brand new aircraft and killed over 300 people. Boeing lost as much in market capitalization in one month as the amount it would have taken to start a clean-sheet design. They don’t have that money now, and will continue to peddle the 737 in some iteration or another.

In the meantime, Airbus continues to advance the A320, so much that it was able to make the A321 XLR, a plane that is big enough and flies far enough that it also killed Boeing’s plans for a New Midsize Aircraft (a sort of new 757) at least for now. And probably is working on a replacement for the A320 already. China is prototyping the COMAC C919, also more advanced than the 737. Boeing is stuck with a plane that dates to the 60’s, with no confidence from the public, no money, They will come up with some tale about how the 737 is the best since sliced bread. Until another breakthrough occurs and then again they have to face the music.

For Boeing fans there is a different picture, focusing on the pilot issue.

Boeing has been blamed unfairly in the opinion of many, Boeing included. The debacle around the MAX has focused too much on the flaws of the aircraft and not on the fact that better trained pilots would – most likely – have had no problem saving the day.

Pilot skills needed
Boeing has conceded that the assumptions it made about how pilots would react to a malfunction of the MCAS system proved totally wrong.

Certainly, there was some fault at Boeing in its safety analysis in assuming a level of pilot competence and training that doesn’t exist in some parts of the world. A training captain told quite simply that the Lion Air first officer (co-pilot) ”could not fly”. ”The (training) report on the FO is an eye-opener as he is constantly very poor in all phases of operating an aircraft,” the training captain said. ”The report indicates a lot of additional training in standard operating procedures and emergencies and this was repeated on almost every subsequent training session but the problems were never resolved.” ”That FO could not fly and I wonder why the Lion Air trainers didn’t cull him as his performance at proficiency checks are all fail items.”

Flight Safety Detectives highlight multiple failures of maintenance and serious pilot deficiencies at Lion Air related to the 737 MAX accident. NTSC obviously reverse-engineered the ”facts” to support their preconceived conclusions that the airplane and MCAS are to blame.”
”The NTSC stated the pilots, especially the First Officer, had significant training deficiencies and lacked basic flying skills. These same deficiencies occurred during the accident flight.

The mistake Boeing, and all manufacturers, have made is to assume that the pilots flying their aircraft are well trained and competent and will follow instructions and obey warnings.

Very little of the above has had widespread exposure and the majority of passengers believe Boeing is totally to blame for the 737 MAX crashes.

2 ————————————————————————————————————————————–

On the pilot issue there are so many worrying comments on the quality in different areas around the world that just a few can be given space here.

When I first got there, as a simulator instructor at Asiana, I was shocked and surprised by the lack of basic piloting skills shown by most of the pilots. They were basically given an ultimatum by the FAA, Transport Canada, and the EU to totally rebuild and rethink their training program or face being banned from the skies all over the world. This Asiana SFO accident makes me sick and while I am surprised there are not more, I expect that there will be many more of the same type accidents in the future unless some drastic steps are taken. The Koreans are very very bright and smart so I was puzzled by their inability to fly an airplane well. Crosswind landings are also an unsolvable puzzle for most of them.So, when I hear that a 10,000 hour Korean captain was vectored in for a 17-mile final and cleared for a visual approach in CAVOK weather, it raises the hair on the back of my neck !!

”These two pilots had no business being in the cockpit and the airplane should not have been operated”

A perfect example of this involves the loss of a Pakistan Airlines Airbus A320 flight PK8303 on May 22, 2020, which killed 97. The pilots made a completely unacceptable approach.In the wake of this disaster, it was revealed that in Pakistan 262 pilots have fake pilot licenses. Pakistan International Airlines sacked 150 of its pilots.

FAA’s Failure to Cull Bad Pilots Cited in Fatal Atlas Crash. The copilot of an Atlas Air cargo plane who inadvertently added full power during a routine approach to land in Houston became disoriented and pushed the Boeing Co. 767-300 into a steep dive, NTSB found. He had repeatedly panicked during training exercises and shown other deficiencies and those systemic issued hadn’t been addressed, NTSB found.

There have been 10 airline accidents over the past 30 years in which pilots with prior performance issues were identified as part of the reasons for the crash, Sumwalt said.

”Safety lapses are a serious concern at Air Asia,” Taneja had tweeted to the aviation minister.

Dieusaert also fears that increase automation in the cockpit will reduce the skill level of younger pilots. ”It becomes a vicious circle, with fewer competent pilots leading to calls for increased automation. ”[Aircraft] manufacturers have no confidence today in pilots,” he said, adding that ”a pilot contacted me to tell me that he worries about the capabilities of the younger generation of pilots.” Meanwhile, airlines, especially low-fare carriers, see increasing automation as a way to reduce staffing and cut costs. Some ultra-low-fare airlines are already pressing to be allowed to operate with only one pilot on board, he said.”The passenger who wants a flight as cheap as possible has to know that he is contributing to more automation and pilots with less flying skill,” he said. He asked, ”Do you want to put your life in the hands of inexperienced pilots? That’s what’s happening now.””I think in the future we’re going to have to start flying less and paying more, not only because of the impact flying has on climate change but also to maintain flight safety, he predicted.


Two sides of the coin, where the coin plays a significant role. As long as airlines, led by low-cost, budget no frills airlines, are not paid / do not charge enough for the expensive high-tech product they provide for its customers, they cannot in the long run do that without cutting corners. Since you can not expect people to beg for more expensive tickets, and airline managements are stuck with competition fighting for survival, the responsibility for change falls heavily in the lap of authorities. Now more that ever.

Post-pandemi aviation?

With no money coming in, how can we keep flying without stopping money going out = more savings programs. Since getting back to anything like normal will take years, many airlines are cutting down work forces across the line, but there is one work force you can’t do without, no matter how hot you wish; crew. Cockpit and cabin. For cargo airlines just cockpit. (In the beginning there was a plane and a pilot.)

For airlines, the need to cut crew costs are soon the only savings possibility remaining. There are different ways. When union negotiations have come to the end of the road, you might be tempted to replace your pilots with non-union pilots = cheaper pilots. This might be good for company shareholders. Is it good for your customers?

Pilots are men and women. If there is a difference in skills and judgement it’s basically due to different amount of training, provided they were properly screened in the first place. Training is expensive. Training is so expensive that Boeings debacle with 737MAX was caused partly by the ambition to sell a new version without need for simulator training. For low-cost companies the need to not spend a penny more than absolutely necessary is a company strategy.

Pilots are a worldwide commodity and you get what you pay for. Better pay and better training go hand in hand. Many flag carriers have a sound base of extensively trained crews from way back when money was not so scarce. Budget airlines might in some cases pay fairly well to get experienced pilots, as quite a few are prepared to follow the money, but in general (with a few adventure oriented exceptions) pilots prefer well renown airlines with a reasonably stable economy (read salary) – and why not a union.

Bottom line regardless of all the above; if you get the pilots left over when everybody else has hired, you might be in trouble. So might your passengers be one day. Many of the  latest fatal accidents with a couple of thousand casualties were avoidable, including Air France over the South Atlantic, Colgan Air in Buffalo, Asiana in SFO, PIA in Karachi, Air India Kozhikode, Atlas Air in Houston, AirAisa over the Java sea, Air Algerie over western Africa – and of course the two cases with the Boeing 737MAX.



June – July 2020

With the downturn in the aviation industry there is less of most everything. Some mishaps are never the less always present. Smoke onboard, engine fails, bird strikes and the never ending story of aircraft overshooting the runway end.

News for 2020 are the premature parking (forever?) of the 747’s from a lot of airlines. A380 has already led the way to the desert. Boeing is being blamed for undue pressure on their in-house FAA designees in connection with the MAX certification. They are in the process of test-flying the aircraft, while selling a few and getting more cancellations.  They have paid 428 MUSD in damages, which is peanuts compared to the billions lost (2,4 Billion USD in one quarter) in aircraft sales, penalties and rectifying what went wrong. The 777X is delayed in the wake of less demand for big aircraft. Job cuts are increasing and by Delta estimated to tens of thousands. FAA has realized that pilot’s records need to be scrutinized, in the wake of the Atlas Air 767 crash, where people were let in to the cockpit who shouldn’t be there in the first place. As in PIA (Pakistan International Airlines), where it is established that up to 1 out of 3 of their pilots have fake licenses. Conversions of passenger planes to semi- or full cargo versions are increasing. The face mask ruling is causing havoc on board with passengers flatly refusing, people denied boarding until complying and general unpleasantness.

On the more immediate serious side, there was an aborted take-off in Britain, after an engine failure, which could have gone badly wrong. It was saved by the Captains glance out of the side window, when he was about to start taxiing on the remaining engine, and saw the escape slide deployed and people milling around the nose of the aircraft. They managed to kill the running engine before anyone got badly hurt. The communication to the cabin crew after the abort had been misunderstood, which – again – shows the value of non-ambiguous communication.

On the matter of overshooting runway ends, a lot has been said in this blog about runways being too short. When runways are long enough you can still go into the terrain beyond, if you choose to land in heavy rain – read wet runway – with a 11 knots tail wind (1 knot above limit value) and touch down one third down the runway. The pilots on Air India Express who tried this a week ago in Kozhikode paid the ultimate price together with 16 others. What made them do this might be explained once recorder readings are evaluated. Nothing so far suggests, that fact that Air India Express is a low-cost subsidiary of Air India, had anything to do with the accident.



PIA clean-up

In the aftermath of the rather bizarre crash in Karachi some time ago, PIA har fired a number of pilots with bogus licenses, challenged others and even fired some allegedly corrupt employees in the airline management. The airline has been banned from US and EU airspace until further and a few airlines have fired Pakistani pilots.

The crash, bringing attention to the substandard situation in PIA, is unprecedented in a major airline, and quite possibly in aviation as a whole. From available reports, where the fact that the aircraft landed with no landing gear and then crashed with its landing gear extended, at least one deduction can be made regarding the probable scenario. Normally it is unwise to speculate on what happened ahead of a full accident report, but the gear-up landing is an irrevocable fact.

The aircraft came in hot and high. (The pilots were most probably properly licensed.) The aircraft was a state of the art Airbus. The pilots refrained from embarrassing  deviations from the straight in approach, and here they obviously got target fascinated. Getting down no matter what required additional drag and the only extra option was the landing gear, which they extended around 7000 feet. The ATC controller advised them of what they already knew, and offered them some turns to lengthen the approach path, which was repeatedly rejected. Now everything became too difficult and where you normally bring down the gear for landing, they retracted it. The aircraft hollered and complained all the way down to the ground, but obviously the brain can shut out what is undesirable. The tower controller said nothing to help, and they landed on their engine pods. The immediate reaction was to get out of there, and they made an effort to go around, where in retrospect staying down would have saved lives. That they were deeply disturbed is not unlikely, since they – where you normally retract the landing gear in a go-around – they extended it. The engines were too damaged to sustain flight for more than a couple of minutes. Most lives onboard were lost in the ensuing crash.

The faulty gear sequence has happened to highly stressed military pilots, when an unextended landing gear has been advised by the tower controller, and in the go-around the gear has been extended where it normally is retracted. The traffic pattern has been flown with the gear extended, and then been retracted where it normally is extended, to the unlimited enjoyment of the tower controller, who again gently has informed the pilot of the value of a go-around.



Boeing has been in deep trouble before. In the early seventies they cut thousands of jobs and a billboard on the highway from downtown Seattle to the airport read; ”The last guy to leave Seattle, please turn off the light”.

Now, while considering lay-offs of 16.000 workers, they are also re-starting manufacturing the 737MAX. Even with major cancellations – 373 this first half year and 439 at risk – they have thousands on order. There are plenty of reasons for airlines to want delivery, one major reason being fuel efficiency. Others are advantages with staying with one manufacturer and difficulties with breaking contracts. Many also realize that despite the tarnished reputation it is one of the best airplanes around. Future will tell the full story.

On another positive note for Boeing, badly needed amidst billions of dollars in losses, the new B777X is expected to fly next year. It will come in three versions and with foldable (!) wingtips it will be the largest wide-body around, also able to use regular gates. Lufthansa is the launch customer. They ordered their first B777-9 in 2013. Other airlines that will fly the new 777 are All Nippon Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines.

Boeing lovers need some good news when the era for the greatest love of all is coming to an end. The Queen of the skies is abdicating without any distinguished successor. The B747 has served mankind for over half a century (50:th anniversary february 2019), and changed the world of flying forever. Airbus attempt to create a competitor failed. Being a remarkable piece of engineering, the A380 was never the hit Airbus had hoped for. Even though passengers loved it, especially those pampered in first class by upscale Middle East and Asian airlines, some with the possibility of a 5 min. shower before landing, it did not sell well, and its lifespan will be a just couple of decades, by the look of it. The only race in which it manages to beat the 747 is to the aircraft boneyard in the desert, being of course helped along the way by the worldwide downturn in air travel. One should of course regret that such a magnificent enterprise by Airbus, with a flawless air-safety record on top, didn’t make it. Maybe future has another story.



Bleak future?

The aviation industry is slowly but surely picking itself up from the biggest downturn in jet-age history, with the fewest movements ever on the 14:th of March according to some sources. What will happen is anybody’s guess, but experts are reasonably in agreement that it will take a few years before things are back to normal – if they ever will be – where ‘normal’ would be the situation before Covid-19. The threats are many. Environmentalists are doing what they can to keep people from flying. Fewer flights and initially fewer seats onboard necessitate higher fares, leaving  – again – the market open for some operators to undercut with planes and crew available for the picking, and possibly coming back from bankruptcy under new names with all debts gone.

One (1) government – Austria’s – has realized the danger and without further ado outlawed low-fare airline tickets, and in doing so giving flight safety a big boost, possibly without knowing it. The reason for their action is claimed to be environmental concerns and also salary consolidations. No ticket under 40€ and shorter trips by train is the thing. The salary concern and the ticket price are interesting since they eliminates the interest from low-cost airlines and thus a stroke of genius from that government. By all means pilots are definitely not less safe with a low salary as long as they are adequately trained. What affects safety when cost-cutting comes into play (as mentioned repeatedly in this blog), is the ambition to maximize profits by giving pilots minimum training, maximum duty hours and spending a minimum also on maintenance and fuel reserves. When aviation authorities fail to regulate the industry for maximum safety, the way of Austrias government could be a new road to follow. 

The effect on safety by sound employment situations for airline crews, with conditions agreed upon by management and unions – and especially the adverse effect on safety by lack of same – has been discussed at length in previous articles, as has the effect of budget airlines on the industry as a whole. It is thus regrettable that regular airlines with longstanding good reputations are surprisingly quick to adapt, like highly respectable BA considering to fire its pilots and re-hiring them on a cheaper contract. That should however not have any immediate effect on flight safety (apart from what may come from less motivation showing up for work by some), but it is a highly questionable move.

To give some credit for safety concerns by authorities, it should be mentioned that the European Union keeps updating its list of airlines banned to fly in Europe. With todays update a total of 96 airlines, not only budget airlines, are banned from the EU skies. They can be found on the European Commission EU Air Safety List.

To end on a positive note Boeing lovers will be happy, when they most likely will see B737 MAX back in the skies earlier that expected. According to some sources Boeing is aiming for key certification flights in a few weeks.