Airline Safety

Improvement potential for US civil aviation |  Paramotor Safety

U.S. civil airlines move humans with less risk than any mode ever devised. But there's still room for improvement. In pursuit of safety we must be careful not to price this mode it out of reach. Doing so would actually lower transportation safety by moving travelers to their more dangerous automobiles.

Every airline's pilot training includes some blurb about being the "best in the business." That's good for encouragement and team building and all that but  undermines the immutable fact of human frailty.

Great pilots have caused crashes in mundane ways. Usually through simple errors compounded unexpectedly that cause unexpected results—sometimes tragically.

Distraction and complacency may be the two biggest enemies of safety while technology, properly used, its best defense. And it's not great pilot skill that will prevents most accidents, but rather the far more mundane practice of discipline. For example: actually looking at items on a checklist, not accepting substandard performance on an approach, biting the bullet to write up a broken item on that last leg home, etc. These are the things that would prevent most mishaps.

Safety improvements don't happen at the wave of someone's hand—even hands high in the management heap. They happen because someone champions the improvement and convince those in power that the benefit is worth the expense. Don't be fooled into thinking that just because something is safer it will be done. Expense must be weighed. That is why the unpopular analysis of "cost per life saved" is so important—it ranks safety improvements by their efficacy.

Our aviation system has been ingeniously tweaked over the years to overcome many human failings but there is room for improvement. This section is is devoted to that effort.


Precious Cargo. Life is an incredible gift, lets work hard to preserve it in our pursuit of motion. Photo by Gary Brown

© 2016 Jeff Goin & Tim Kaiser   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!