03 Jan 12 IN FOCUS: Airlines run up a safety debt

From Flightglobal's David Learmount: "Over the last eight years the system of counting airline accidents annually has ceased to be a useful predictor of future safety performance, because nothing significant has happened to the numbers. A projection would show more of the same.
That is to ignore, however, stresses that have been building in the industry gradually over the last two or three decades and which, if they are not mitigated, will lead to a world in which airlines from the mature economies will face a return to the accident numbers - if not rates - experienced in the 1970s and 1980s. This would be a shock for the travelling public, because air travel in the developed world has become routine in people's minds, and safety has stopped being a real consideration for those who would purchase an airline ticket.
Meanwhile, all the predictions for future air transport demand are for solid growth. Indeed demand for air travel today, even despite the dire economic situation in the mature Western economies, remains fairly buoyant. This continual expansion has, however, not been accompanied by industry investment in suitable specialist training for skilled personnel, either in terms of quantity or quality, creating the single biggest source of stress the system faces: a shortage of pilots, maintenance engineers and instructors for both specialisations."
Full Article: Flightglobal

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