Aviation Safety is No Accident

Last week “60 Minutes” did half-hour story on Allegiant Airlines. It was unflattering.

A few years ago, an uneducated writer for “Esquire” magazine wrote a piece that slammed a non-US MRO as having a poor safety rating. Um… the pros in the industry who know that facility will tell you just the opposite. But don’t let the facts stand in the way of a good story.

During my tenure at Bombardier a well-known competitor would call on prospects. His only pitch?  “Learjets are unsafe.” A bunch of BULLS***!

I’m all about calling a spade a spade. If unsafe conditions exist, then someone please speak up!

But to casually make an indictment against a company without having real facts is an insult. It’s an insult not just to the focus of criticism, but to the THOUSANDS those who manufacture, fix, fly, certify and operate airplanes. 

Allegiant employs 4,000 people…  I truly doubt that many people, whose mission is to safely transport the public, would work there if they thought their personal actions might kill someone, just so they can have a bi-weekly paycheck. I have more faith in humanity than that.  I also wonder if 60 Minutes thinks they’re a bunch of lemmings who would blindly follow a management team of miscreants.

I’m also very familiar with the pilot mentality. Pilots rarely keep their opinions guarded and if an airline was unsafe, you’d hear about it – loudly! Same goes for maintenance and inspection folks.

On another note, this past week saw the first fatality in a decade on a US commercial airline. The CFM engines have a great reputation, as does Southwest Airlines. What happened was, unfortunately, a freak mishap and I think one had better chance of winning Lotto – twice - than being killed by a disintegrating jet engine.

This week THOUSANDS of man-hours will be dedicated to ensuring a similar incident doesn’t happen again.

The safety records of air carriers, operators and OEMs in the United States are impressive and purposeful and driven by a constant culture that safety comes first. 

If anyone says differently, be skeptical.

Yes, safety is expensive. Well trained pilots, well maintained aircraft, detailed parts manufacture and certification efforts, etc. 

Mishaps, however, can be catastrophic. We ALL know that.