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What is going on with airline safety?

Posted on March 27, 2023

To address a pilot shortage and recruit more candidates, Southwest has reportedly cut its flight hour requirement in half. While this opens jobs to more pilots, one might question how this affects safety.

Southwest says the new pilots still have to pass its flight operations training program, and that the hiring rule is in line with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules. However, Southwest has been navigating some turbulence of late, with some 16,700 cancelled flights during the peak winter holiday season this past December, and an incident where a Southwest plane almost collided with a FedEx plane at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport last month.

However, Southwest isn’t the only airline with midair misses: there has been such an uptick that a federal safety summit was held last month. The FAA and aviation leaders reviewed the structure, culture, and systems in the airline industry and looked at how safety is integrated. The nation is reportedly on track to have more than 20 close calls this year, and demand for increased travel, rebounding from the pandemic, is putting a strain on the system.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating six recent close calls. Five took place at airports and one happened over the Pacific Ocean. Three involved planes taking off without clearance from air traffic control, and two others involved traffic control mistakenly giving two planes clearance. The one over the Pacific Ocean experienced a sudden loss in altitude.

A recent Flight Global report called on airlines to improve safety numbers. Last year, there were 12 fatal crashes resulting in 229 deaths worldwide. This is in line with an annual 10-year average of 15.4 crashes and 302 fatalities. One major commercial crash in 2022 involved the China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800. The rest were small or medium sized aircraft, mostly managed by regional airlines. Knowing the design flaws, possible malfunctions and common reasons for those crashes can help to prevent them in the future, the article noted.

While these incidents did not result in injury, not all in-flight errors are minor. If you or someone you love was injured while traveling on an airplane and believe that negligence or error was involved, it may help to discuss the details with an experienced aviation accident attorney in Philadelphia. Firm founder Tom Duffy is a licensed and skilled commercial multi-engine pilot and understands the procedures and mechanics behind air travel. Contact us today to set a convenient time to speak.