Apr 4, 2007

Air safety...

In the previous posting about Air Charter safety, Ron commented: "why must everything by controlled by the government?"

Good point and one I've enjoyed thinking about. A couple of things come to mind:

At the extreme we could ask "Who makes the companies carry insurance?" Should I have to read the proof-of-insurance documents for each carrier I travel with? Obviously not. I assume that as they are allowed to publicly sell air transport services, then they are regulated by someone I trust (okay - "trusting the government" may sound like an oxymoron...).

But I'm even less comfortable trusting those whose vested interests are profits and my security is just a necessary by-product to be managed towards that end.

Having said this, I should point out that my personal aircraft is a "homebuilt" - I must display a placard visible to my passengers that tells them that the government has given me a great deal of latitude in how the airplane is manufactured and operated. Unfortunately it's too vague. I think the placard should really ask: How much do you trust this person at the controls?

Unfortunately in commercial aviation we don't always know the full reputation of the airline owners.

In Canada the industry often works in some pretty remote regions. The mystic of "the bush pilot" is as pervasive here as in Alaska and connotes ingenuity, daring, steadfastness, and so on. But there's another edge to that reputation evident in terms like: "bush league" ... meaning unprofessional and second-rate.

And in truth many "bush" operators are just that. And they aren't all operating up north, far from civilization. Unhappily, they endanger and even kill the traveling public before they fail financially or the government steps in to shut them down.

In both instances (financial failure and government-regulated shutdown) I'd say the two 'extremes' of safety regulation are working together. And that to me is the ideal balance.

1 comment:

Ron said...

Yeah, the concept of a truly deregulated aviation industry are fascinating to contemplate. :) It saddens me to think that so many people feel everything would fall apart, that only the government can make things work.

I sound very anti-government. I'm not, really. But it does get old watching it take over more and more of our lives.

As far as the insurance is concerned, the shareholders are probably the ones who'd ensure the company carries insurance. Without it, their investment and the existence of the company itself are at risk.

You are so right on the money with the comment about the "passenger warning" placard in homebuilts. Most of the homebuilts I've seen are of higher quality than most factory build GA airplanes. It's the guy in the left seat who determines whether the flight will conclude safely. That's why I always advise those who ask me if it's safe to fly with a friend to ask themselves how much they trust that pilot and their judgment.