Airline Safety, Check It Before You Fly


Lightly edited excerpts from Check It Before You Fly:

In May, the FAA announced it will not levy fines against Southwest Airlines for flying planes with uninspected wiring. The agency’s decision comes in the wake of a series of embarrassing revelations about its lax oversight of Southwest and other airlines.

The FAA’s announcement is another setback for air travelers, who have a right to expect their government to protect them from unsafe airlines.

The FAA previously fined Southwest $10.2 million for flying 46 jets without performing mandatory inspections for fuselage cracks and then trying to cover up their misdeeds by submitting false reports on their safety compliance. The Wall Street Journal reported that the FAA proposed an additional fine of $7.5 million against Southwest for flying planes with uninspected wiring, but a settlement was reached under which the airline paid $200,000 and “promised” to comply with safety regulations.

If you want to know which airlines have the best safety records, you won’t find that information anywhere on the FAA’s website or anywhere else in the federal government.

Check It Before You Fly

If you’re interested in aviation safety, you might want to check out the Airline Safety website. It has a lot of airline safety information, some on current events and some just background. The site is run by Mr. Patrick Smith, who is a pilot for a major airline. His book Ask the Pilot is also worth reading, if you’re interested in aviation stuff.

This is not just a problem with Southwest. Other airlines are also making it hard to find their safety records, so I’m now recommending that you check two sites before booking travel:

– [1] Airline Quality Rating (aqr)

– [2] Airline Safety Records from the FAA.

– Also, if you’re flying internationally beyond North America and the Caribbean, check for government advisories on [3] Foreign Government Warnings about air travel (IATA does not include such advisories in its search results).

The latest aviation safety information and news, with accidents and incidents involving airlines, airliners and general aviation.

Airline Safety – Airline Accident History

Accidents and Incidents by Airline

Maybe it’s because we’re so dependent on airlines that the news of an airline crash or even a missing flight can cause some real anxiety. Especially when it’s a major airline crash.

But say what you will about airline safety over the years, it has improved to the point where commercial air travel is one of the safest forms of transportation in the world. According to Boeing data, there were 8.4 accidents for every one million flights in 2014, compared to 6.1 in 2007. While these rates are extremely low compared to other forms of transportation, they indicate a slight increase in airline accidents over the past decade. What does this mean for passengers?

Here are some tips for flying in the US:

Before You Book

* Compare prices across airlines, some of them post their lowest fare on their own website.

* Sign up for airline e-mails for special offers and deals.

* Read Consumer Reports airline ratings.

* Check airport location and travel time from your home to the airport, especially if you need a connecting flight. (You can use Mapquest or Google Maps to find out.)

* Check airport parking rates and hotel packages. It may be cheaper to take a cab, park at a nearby hotel, or use public transportation to get to the airport.

* Join an airline’s frequent flier program and start collecting points.

* Subscribe to sites like Farecompare.com and Airfarewatchdog.com that track airfare price changes.

When You Book

* Use a credit card instead of a debit card to avoid fraud concerns if there is a problem with your transaction or reservation. (And pay it off when you get your bill!)

* Don’t buy tickets at the airport–they can cost as much as $100 higher than online bookings!

* Clear your cookies before you book so that past searches won’t affect prices (Airlines track your searches

The crash of Air France 447 in June 2009 killed all 228 onboard. The official investigation found that the crash was caused by a combination of factors. These include:

-The plane flew into a storm;

-An external speed sensor malfunctioned and gave faulty readings, which were not cross-checked manually by the pilots;

-The autopilot disconnected;

-The pilots then reacted incorrectly to the stall warning, pulling the nose up rather than lowering it, causing the stall to worsen;

-A series of compounding errors were made following this initial incorrect reaction, leading to a total loss of control.

Some people have argued that Air France could be at fault for this crash because they didn’t give their pilots enough training on how to handle stalls. But as I noted at the time:

The airline industry is highly regulated, and it’s not like Air France could just put a plane up in the air without having its pilots trained to deal with stalls. The more likely explanation is that airline stalls are so rare that pilots don’t have many opportunities to practice them and need to keep their skills sharp.

A few years ago I was at a party eating some amazing food at the potluck buffet. In my area it seemed like there were a lot of people around the buffet table with wine glasses in hand, so I jokingly said to the guy next to me: “If you drink enough wine, you won’t care if the food has meat in it.” He said, “What?” and I repeated my line. He told me that he had just turned vegetarian and was trying to avoid all animal products for ethical reasons. I apologized profusely and said that my joke was in poor taste (pardon the pun).

There are times when you need to be a bit careful about what you say. That’s why I try to avoid discussions about politics or religion when meeting new people. As a programmer, you need to be aware that your words may be taken more literally than you intend. For example, a system administrator named Mark Minasi wrote an essay named “Things You Should Never Do, Part I.” In this article he wrote: “Never test anything on production that hasn’t been tested in a test environment first.” A few weeks later he received an email from someone who read his article saying that they were glad he mentioned this approach because they had been working on


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