We just came off of a year in 2017 where we had zero commercial aviation related deaths. Fortunately we can also say that general aviation related deaths have also been on a decline and ended up to being the lowest ever in 2017. Where are we now? Unfortunately already worse than 2017…
We started off the first two months of 2018 with 170 deaths related to commercial aviation. Starting with a Dash-8 in Kathmandu which killed 45 passengers. Moving on to February 18th where a crash of an ATR 72 built by Airbus SE killed another 60 people. Other than the events that transpired early this year we’ve seen an airport worker steal a turbo prop and pass away after crashing into Puget sound earlier this month in Seattle. We’ve also seen crashes that have produced severe injuries for example the AeroMexico Connect E190 that crashed after struggling to climb out of Durango due to apparent wind shear.
All the crashes before and during 2018 have made aviation safety enthusiasts start to think of ways to improve safety in aviation. One example is after Air Florida flight 90 crashed into the Potomac river, the requirements to become an airline pilot in the US were heightened. You now need a total of at least 1,500 flight hours to get into the flight deck. This has shown a vast improvement in aviation safety but after all the crashes and near misses, is there more that needs to be done? The FAA has tested out their FAROS system ( Final Approach Runway Occupancy System) at airports like Dallas Forth Worth which allows the PAPI lights to flash at in bound aircraft letting them know that the runway is occupied. This may help in situations like Air Canada’s where they were told to go around 6 times at SFO and another two incidents at Toronto but ignored the instructions to go around. It will provide an extra visual reference for inbound aircraft, especially in situations where radios may be INOP or malfunctioning.
We’ve had great technology come from these unfortunate situations that have provided even more safety in the flight deck and on the ground. Take TCAS ( Traffic Collision and Avoidance System) for example. It has proven to help in many situations where aircraft were on the same course. We also have GPWS ( Ground Proximity Warning System) and EGPWS ( Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System) which help pilots by making a call out that their to close to the ground or terrain and also give resolution to the situation such as “Terrain Terrain, Pull Up”.
All these great systems have provided an extra boost of safety in today’s skies but the way 2018 is going, could more be done? What other systems could we use? Is Flight time still to low? Is airline training not sufficient enough? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!