Aviation safety continues to improve in the US and Europe

By Judson Rollins

Introduction

Jan. 3, 2020, © Leeham News: Despite all the safety-related headlines surrounding the Boeing 737 MAX, 2019 was a mercifully quiet year with just six fatal airline accidents around the world.

Clifford Law Offices in Chicago recently released an analysis of aviation incidents and accidents reported to the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) from 1982 to 2018. It highlighted several interesting patterns that are probably well known to pilots but perhaps not the rest of the aviation community. LNA also looked at accident data from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for 1970-2017 for comparison.

In 2018, the NTSB investigated 1,581 aviation accidents and incidents that left 847 people dead and another 768 people injured. The vast majority of these, not surprisingly, involved non-commercial general aviation aircraft. Seventy-nine percent of all US aircraft accidents and 72% of fatal accidents involved single-engine planes. In this article, LNA will focus primarily on commercial aircraft operations like the ones defined under US Federal Aviation Administration Part 121 rules.

Summary

  • Air travel remains one of the safest modes of transportation;
  • Accidents and fatalities have fallen dramatically over the past 40 years;
  • The most accidents occur during takeoff and landing, but those during maneuvering and cruising are the most deadly.

Aviation accident rate bested only by trains

The US National Safety Council puts the odds of dying as a passenger of an airplane as 1 in 188,106. Only railway travel is safer, with a death rate of 1 in 243,765. However, aviation accidents are much more likely to be fatal than those in other forms of transportation. From 1982 to 2018, 20% of all aviation accidents and incidents involved at least one fatality. By comparison, less than 1% of US car accidents were fatal.

On a flight-hour basis, US Part 121 operations have averaged 0.86 accidents involving injury or death per million flight hours. EASA measures commercial accidents per million flights; it reported an average of 13 serious incidents or accidents per million flights for the five-year period ending 2017.

Just as total aircraft accidents have steadily decreased, fatalities have seen a similar overall decline, albeit at a much less linear rate. After a high of 2,365 in 1972, commercial aircraft accident fatalities fell to a record-low 67 in 2017.

Source: EASA Annual Safety Review 2018

Accidents are concentrated in just a few phases of flight

Fully 48% of US accidents occurred during takeoff and landing, with an additional 3% during climb and 11% during approach. Interestingly, landing accounted for 27% of accidents but just 2% of fatalities. This statistic is likely explained by the vigilance of cabin crews checking for seat belt usage during initial descent.

However, accidents that occur during the maneuvering and cruise phases had the highest rate of fatalities. In the NTSB’s data, 39% of accidents during maneuvering and 30% during cruise were fatal. Interestingly, despite being the most likely phase to be involved in an accident, accidents during landing were by far the least likely to be deadly. Just under 2% of landing phase accidents resulted in a fatality – compared to 15.7% of accidents during takeoff.

The following is a full distribution of US accidents by phase of flight:

Why have accidents rates decreased?

There is an unfortunate but accurate saying among pilots: “Aviation safety improves one accident at a time.” With each accident, investigators uncover lessons that can be used to prevent future occurrences. So-called “probable cause” accident reports often contain recommendations to regulators, manufacturers, and operators regarding improvements to design, processes, documentation, and training.

Increased safety regulation and requirements for carriers and pilots have also helped reduce commercial accidents and fatalities. Until a passenger was killed due to an uncontained engine failure aboard a Southwest flight in 2018, it had been more than nine years since the last fatal airline accident in the US.

Pilot training and experience requirements have risen significantly, most notably the increase from 250 to 1,500 flight hours required for a US Air Transport Pilot certificate. Flight and duty time regulations have also been strengthened alongside other industry safety and transparency requirements. The work of accident investigators and aviation regulators, together with improved operator and pilot practices, will continue to make aviation even safer in the years to come.

84 Comments on “Aviation safety continues to improve in the US and Europe

  1. “Despite all the safety-related headlines surrounding the Boeing 737 MAX, 2019 was a mercifully quiet year with just six fatal airline accidents around the world.”

    Maybe because of the MAX grounding, we had a quiet year.

    I have become critical. Last year has shown that if the bigger public wants something to look good, so does the OE, the stock holder (& their helpers), as do auhorities, politicians and everyone joins for the higher cause, things drift slowly away from reality.

    Measurements are changed, exemptions granted, events left out, rules changed, time frames selected, references updated, the public willfully confused. Perception specialists outcommunicate all, by complexity, generalisations, rapid 1 liner mass media.

    Boeing PR over the lastdecade is IMO a huge example.

    But everybody gets what they want to get, want to see and prefers to look ahead anyway. Modern times..

    • Agreed.

      Aerostructures and aerodynamics are so well understood that there really isn’t a valid reason for getting it wrong. The same applies to fail-safe redundancy for primary control systems.

      So crashes should be about the weak link. Humanity. But with regard to the MAX, it wasn’t those flying the airplane, it was those who lied to cicumvent regulations to maximise profit.

      Boeing attitude will not change until they are forced to change. The MAX must remain grounded until Boeing agree to fix it properly by implementing an aerodynamic fix.

  2. Has the 1500 hour requirement driven an improvement? Some high profile accidents such as Colgan Air, the captain had much more than 1500 hours. Hours for hours sake does not drive quality.

    • It doesn’t seem so. The Europeans run a 300 hour system and it’s as safe as the US one. If it wasn’t safe they’d increase hours. There has been no need to.
      There is one case where the European system failed.
      Germanwings Flight 9525. The knuckle head pilot Andreas Lubitz, committed a murder suicide and crashed an entire A320 killing all aboard. A long list of irresponsible weak minded people took pity on this pilot from his childhood where he had severe mental illness and used flying as therapy to feel good about themselves. They encouraged him to become a pilot despite his mental illness. His suicidal nature returned. Nice can hurt, nice can kill.
      But no, 1500 hours doesn’t help.

      • So, a deeply disturbed pilot is given the let go and if 300 hours was too few the on top of it authorities would have changed it.

        Does that not smack of totally illogical?

        Sometimes we feel like a nut and sometimes we don’t?

        • It wasnt just a 1500 hr flying time .
          The training was extended so it wasnt just ‘theory held in a classroom’ ( that was a big issue with Colgan Air pilots , they ‘did everything wrong’)
          -Aerotime.aero
          “Secondly, crew management completely changed. The law secured more rest time for the crew. Beforehand, airlines gave pilots an 8 hour resting period between shifts. Currently, airlines are required to give 10 hours of rest with 8 hours of sleep. Airlines are also required to present their Fatigue Risk management plans”-

          ” The Federal Aviation Administration established an electronic database of all pilot records. Airlines are required to check these records whenever they want to hire a pilot. Although the FAA has still not yet established the database, citing software issues.”

          This would have showed up the Atlas Air crash co pilot who had a history of failed flight checks he kept hidden from Atlas.

          Its a mistake to merely compare European and US just based on the 1500 hr rule. ( exceptions for some high level training programs-1100hrs and ex Military-750 hrs)

          • The ATR72 is not designed to high standards. The modified NACA 5 digit airfoils, the ones designed in 1930s by Eastman Jacobs at NACA, had a well known sharp stall due to their high CLmax and their icing characteristics were known for 70 years yet ATR couldn’t get the de icing boots the correct size. The aircraft didn’t have powered flight controls and used spring tab servo tabs which meant that when the airflow seperated over the ailerons the ailerons flip flopped about and didn’t give the pilots any roll control. This was/is a very unforgiving aircraft built to late 1950s standards and it has 1950s safety. Had the aircraft had powered flight controls or even fly by wire with flight envelop protection this accident would not have occurred. The Aircraft was certified in Europe by its Franco Italian maker and the FAA accepted their nonsense design. It’s due to this primitive aircraft that Americans don’t trust turboprops.

          • @William
            Some people preferably latch onto any foreign reason for failures and the argumentative chain just reflects the prejudice.
            Sometimes a mirror is the more conducive tool to use.

        • I think you both mistaken classic PPL – CPL – ATPL license path to be an airline pilot, with ca. 300 flight hrs condensed training to get MPL license (like jet fighter pilot’s training in military).

          Different paths – extensive vs intensive, possible multi type rating vs single type rating, working for any airline vs only one airline within you certified – but both for airlines flying.

  3. It would have be more relevant a chart with flight hours vs deaths and flight quantity vs deaths for an extended period but i guess that is not easily available.

    Another question is what is the definition of an accident.

    • So few accidents and causes are complex so it would be hard to prove one way or the other.

    • One way to gain more info is to go away from looking at direct outcome but to expand by looking at potential escalation path for incidents.
      What does some “harmless little hick up” need to “blow it up”?
      What happened to the NTSB recommendations addressed at Boeing in the followup to the KAL 777 crash?
      Why have Boeing types ( and especially the 777 ) more electrical fire/heat/smoke events than the Airbus products.

      Difference to MCAS seems to be that Boeing previously was much more successful in foisting off responsibility to (foreign) crew failings.

      • was this the recommendation for the FAA to adress with Boeing
        “Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Require Boeing to revise its 777 Flight Crew Training Manual stall protection demonstration to include an explanation and demonstration of the circumstances in which the autothrottle does not provide low speed protection. ”
        From FAA
        “Response: We do not agree with you that it is less effective to redesign or reengineer the procedures for one aircraft type, such as the Boeing 777, when every aircraft has potential vulnerabilities associated with its design and operation…..”
        https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/_layouts/ntsb.recsearch/Recommendation.aspx?Rec=A-14-039
        “And further from NTSB ..
        “Our investigation found deficiencies in Boeing documentation and training that apply to all operators. These deficiencies involved unclear and potentially misleading explanations of autoflight system functionality.”
        Ouch !

        The recommendation is classified as ‘Open, Unacceptable response’

        • Duke, just to clarify, the link you gave from 2014, shows only the NTSB original request & letter to the FAA, and then the NTSB ruling that the FAA response was unacceptable. It does not show the FAA response at all. Therefore all quotes above are from NTSB.

          I could not find the response from the FAA. But from the NTSB ruling, the gist may have been that airlines should determine their own training procedures to include the FLCH behavior, since they may have different procedures for how automated systems should be used during flight.

          The NTSB obviously disagreed and said that the Boeing documentation should be modified. That documentation accurately explains the different modes and how they interact, but does not explicitly point out or caution against the mode of FLCH where auto-throttle will not wake up (the trap).

          Someone had posted in PPRUNE that Boeing was adding an auto-throttle floor for the FLCH mode, so it would always wake up, but I could find no confirmation of that elsewhere.

  4. Statistics such as these paint an interesting picture, thank you for the article!

    However, statistics can be a bit generalistic; if you told the average Japanese train passenger that they stood a 1 in 243,765 chance of dying during their journey, they’d be somewhat mystified. The passenger death rate on Shinkansen trains is currently at 0 in ~10,000,000,000, after 55 years of operation, despite the earthquakes, volcanoes and typhoons. As far as safety requirements go, that’s entirely satisfactory.

    Similarly, of the 233,561 passengers that passed through London Heathrow on the 31/7/2011, AFAIK not one of them died in a plane crash on their way (at not least in an airliner).

      • rather low numbers!
        Germany has ~~700 fatalities per year just from “suicide by train”. Next up is afaik bypassing crossing signaling.
        this appears to get worse. ( a driver qualification issue imho.)

    • The sentence “the odds of dying as a passenger of an airplane as 1 in 188,106. Only railway travel is safer, with a death rate of 1 in 243,765. ” seems incomplete. In the Netherlands 1 million people a DAY take the train. We don’t have 4 railway deaths a day – let alone 1440 railway deaths a year. If this were the case, this would halt all rail traffic in my country. KLM had 34 million passengers last year – and we don’t see an average of fatal accidents with almost 200 deaths per year from them. I assume it must be a life time chance or so, so the odds per annum then are 80 times lower. Maybe the author can clarify.

      • Unfortunately, I don’t have any further info on how the National Safety Council derived its stats. What I would suggest, however, is that accidents aren’t evenly distributed across years or countries, so it’s entirely possible that the overall average holds globally even if it isn’t accurate for a single operator or country.

    • The B737-700/800/900 series has a fatal accident event rate of 0.06 per million flights. Some aircraft such as the A380, B787, A340, A320neo have Never had a fatality. In General passenger flights flown under FAR 25 are much safer than trains, about 7 times. Shinkansen is exceptional mostly due to the character and nature of the Japanese. European High Speed trains have had accidents. The A320ceo went from the 1 position to 5 due to the suicidal pilot of Germanwings 9525

      • Hate to tell you this but I know of at least two A320 crashes you are ignoring.

        1. Air Asia with the faulting rudder control

        2. Egypt Air A320 that augured into the Med, fire on board but Egypt is not talking.

  5. With the killing of the Iranian General and his sidekicks, things just took a huge leap up risk wise .

    • Oh i thought it was because of an attack agaisnt American Embassy which is US soil.

      • that area in Iraq is a foreign power projection and infiltration site cloaked in an embassy skin.
        The same was valid for the Iran embassy during the Shah reign.

        If you get blow back for misuse don’t be surprised

        • Uwe, by that definition the UN site is also foreign power projection and infiltration. Or any other embassy. Do Americans form militias and attack the UN? Obviously not, that behavior is not justified, could never be justified.

          The vast majority of all embassy attacks are carried out by militant groups sponsored by, or representing interests from, outside the host country. That was the case in Iraq as well. Those are very real attempts at power projection and infiltration.

          The few exceptions have occurred either when the rule of law doesn’t exist, or with tacit approval of the reigning non-democratic government.

          Sadly, I don’t believe those actions are the will of the Iranian people. I’ve known several Iranian students in the US, had excellent Iranian professors here. None of them has ever advocated those kinds of actions. They were kind and generous people. I wish we weren’t in conflict with Iran.

          • To Leeham: I apologize for getting into a discussion of politics, I know it’s off-limits and would not ordinarily participate. I made an exception in this case because the remarks made appeared to be a defense of an attack against a diplomatic embassy.

            Thank you for allowing my initial response, which made my basic point. I should have stopped there and let it go. Sorry again. Will try to do better in future. We all appreciate the ability to post here.

  6. The largest potential for improvement in flight safety, has been and will remain reduction of pilot error. The incident rate is 10 times less for airlines that encourage strong pilot training and qualification. They also tend to have better maintenance programs.

    Recognition of this is behind the increase in required pilot hours in the US and elsewhere. Hours have to be accompanied by quality of training as well, so that is another area for improvement. This may become more significant as fewer pilots come from the military.

    We cannot foresee all ends, there will always be unexpected situations that arise in flight. We try to minimize them, and correct those problems that we find. But good piloting can mean the difference between life and death in those situations.

    • Well put.

      There is now a major movement to assess pilots on what they know about the aircraft ops than the rote checklist items of the past.

      The idea is to throw failures that are not covered by a check list but require a knowledge for the aircraft, systems and how to manage it.

      Upset training is now mandated part of it (implementation is spotty).

      One Mantra needs to be the top priority .

      Fly The Airplane.

      First, foremost and alwyas, fly the aircraft.

      The L1011 into the Florida swamp while the were trouble shoo0ting looked at a burned out light-bulb is still true.

      Ethiopian pilots while challenged, failed to fly the aircraft.

      Instead of checklists, first and alwyas foremost is to fly the aircraft,

      Crashing renders the checklist a fatally mute point.

      • I absolutely agree, the same thing is happening in standardized testing in schools. It used to be testing for rote knowledge, now it’s focused on applying concepts and reasoning skills.

        Test scores dropped like a rock when that happened, because it revealed the true nature of the problem, but now they are climbing again as schools adjust their methods.

        I think the same thing may be found for pilots, ratings will go down initially but with better training, will rise again. It’s not that we have bad pilots, we just can do better at training them.

        There’s always resistance to those things within industries, the important thing is not to react to the appearance of lesser results, but to the potential for improvement.

      • @TransWorld

        I think you missed one thing – checklists are for flying and saving an aircraft, if well prepared and exists (eg. no MCAS info or checklist).

        I don’t see that Ethiopian crew failed to fly an aircraft, they failed to troubleshoot MCAS due to lack of complete info from Boeing or checklist (eg. reduce speed, hit speed brakes if needed, extend flaps at almost any cost!!!).

        Failures from outside of properly prepared checklists are for armchair aviators, and crash investigators.

        • Pablo,

          Thanks. Yet again, a needed correction. Pilots can’t be trained on something pilots know nothing about (The Lion Air crash) and the training [procedure] is useless if the training [procedure] is wrong (The Ethiopian Airlines crash).

          I agree the weak link in airplane safety is people. But that does not necessarily mean the pilots. With regard to the MAX crashes, it was the people at Boeing.

          • Control of airspeed is expected from all pilots. Ethiopian pilots got distracted by the MCAS issues, so no one is denying that was a major contributing factor, and that Boeing was responsible. But the pilots made mistakes, and those also were major contributions.

            So if we try to ensure that Boeing doesn’t make future errors, we should also do what we can to make sure pilots don’t either. Otherwise we are not totally addressing safety. Hence the need for more effective pilot training.

          • Rob,

            The pilots were told not to address airspeed disagree. The pilots were told to address alpa vane disagree. The Ethiopian pilots did as per instruction

            Rubbish. Total rubbish.

            [Edited as violation of Reader Comment rules.]

          • @Rob

            Addis Abbeba airport is high & hot if you likw to climb and not to fell to them ground you need all trust. It’s my bet on explanation. But we have to wait a little bit for crash investigation report.

            Imho they didn’t made a bold mistake, they just wanted to climb and knew they needed the whole power in high & hot. And MAXs are known for not liking high & hot.

          • Pablo, the high and hot argument is not supported by the fact that the aircraft very quickly reached Vmo. This means that the amount of power used was excessive, beyond the initial takeoff roll and climb.

            Power is needed at high and hot conditions because the takeoff roll can be extended. At flaps up, procedure would be for throttles to go back to 30%, or the amount needed to sustain the desired velocity. That velocity should not exceed 250 knots at 10,ooo feet, under the regulations. The Ethiopian flight was above 300 knots, approaching 340 knots.

            Philip, I think airspeed control is basic airmanship, as TW pointed out. Boeing should not have to tell a pilot to not overspeed. That goes back to the argument that better training would help to avoid mistakes.

            The overspeed clacker sounded many times during the flight. I get that they may have ignored it because they had an airspeed disagree. It’s understandable that mistakes can happen, but they are still mistakes, and can be corrected for the future. But not if we defend them as something else.

          • @Rob

            MAX during flight 302 struggled and lost altitude before recovering. It never reported reaching more than 1,000 feet above ground level. In some point was only ca. 300 feet (100 meters) above ground level.

            Addis Ababa’s altitude is 7,625 feet. It’s 2000 feet abovethen Denver, USA which accord to Boeing is difficult for MAXs as high & hot.

            They have unreliable airspeed warnings among multiple others. Going towards ground because ground level was increasing in the area. They were trying to troubleshoot MCAS.

            And you would like to decrease engines power? What an armchair point of view.

            If they knew what we know now or if Boeing would disclosed full information (extend flaps!!!) or issued proper check list – they would save aircraft probably.

          • Pablo, the data from ET302 indicate that it climbed overall, reaching a maximum altitude of between 5,000 to 6,000 feet above ground (radar indicated), or 12,ooo to 13,000 feet above sea level (pressure indicated).

            That was their altitude when they reactivated electric trim, at a speed between 350 and 400 knots. They subsequently lost control and went into an unrecoverable dive.

            During the overall climb, they experienced repeated descents of around 1000 feet or so, due to the MCAS malfunction. Each time, they recovered more altitude than was lost. So they were ascending more than descending.

            This pattern closely resembles JT610 in all respects except airspeed. That was the critical factor. I realize they were distracted and distressed in that situation, that MCAS played the major role in creating that problem, and that Boeing is responsible for that role.

            But the truth is that they achieved an airspeed of 400 knots in an overall climb. The only possible explanation for that is excessive power.

            The notion that reducing thrust might create stall conditions, at that speed and altitude, is not physically realistic. After takeoff and with flaps raised, the high and hot influence was no longer a concern.

          • @Rob

            Armchair point of view.

            After takeoff, when retracted flaps and MCAS activated they almost hit the ground – they managed to climb again because they didn’t touch throttles and had full of trust. Then you have consisting meltdown of alarms that you have to ignore, and focus on saving aircraft, and you have criminally flawed runaway trim checklist and flawed aircraft and lack of proper information from Boeing (flaps on!!!). And you don’t climb really much because ground around airport climbs as well, and MCAS is pushing you again and again and again.

            Now you know everything better then they knew.

          • Pablo, you are refuting the publicly available flight data from ET302 (minimum descent altitude – radar indicated so irrespective of ground elevation – was about 1000 feet).

            As well as the laws of physics (the acceleration of an object is proportional to the applied force, therefore impossible to reach overspeed in a climb without overthrust).

            There is no way to argue with those positions, so I’ll stop here. I’ve acknowledged the role of MCAS, but you are unwilling to acknowledge the role of the pilots. So we disagree and just have to leave it at that.

          • Duke, my data was taken from the preliminary flight data released by Ethiopian investigators. Since this is the actual flight data from the recorder on the aircraft, I would presume it’s the authoritative source?

            I also used conservative numbers since I was reading from a graph. Note in particular for altitude, the blue scale on the left side for blue & red pressure-indicated altitude (relative to sea-level), the black scale on the right side for the black radar-indicated altitude (relative to ground-level).

            Also to clarify, in the graph “RAD” is the radar altimeter on the aircraft, not external tracking radars such as you are referencing.

            http://visualapproach.io/et302-even-without-answers-the-data-tells-a-story/

          • Duke, I checked the FlightRadar24 reported data, it ends at 41:02, but the flight data recorder goes on to 43:42. In that time, the radar-indicated altitude (above ground-level) increased from about 2,000 feet to about 7,000 feet.

            That climb rate is about 1,880 feet per minute. The common target climb rate for the 737 MAX is 1,800 feet per minute. So I believe my analysis is correct. Please let me know if you see any problem with those numbers.

            Also I went back to the original source PDF, which is more easily readable.

            https://flightsafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Preliminary-Report-B737-800MAX-ET-AVJ.pdf

          • In prelim report Nowhere is there any indication of the altitudes you mention.

            This is a timeline
            At 05:39:06, the Captain advised the First-Officer to contact radar and First Officer reported SHALA
            2A departure crossing 8400 ft and climbing FL 320.
            Between liftoff and 1000 ft above ground level (AGL), the pitch trim position moved between 4.9
            and 5.9 units in response to manual electric trim inputs. At 1000 ft AGL, the pitch trim position was
            at 5.6 units.
            At 05:39:22 and about 1,000 feet the left autopilot (AP) was engaged (it disengaged about 33
            seconds later), the flaps were retracted and the pitch trim position decreased to 4.6 units.
            Six seconds after the autopilot engagement, there were small amplitude roll oscillations
            accompanied by lateral acceleration, rudder oscillations and slight heading changes. These
            oscillations continued also after the autopilot was disengaged.
            At 05:39:29, radar controller identified ET-302 and instructed to climb FL 340 and when able right
            turns direct to RUDOL and the First-Officer acknowledged.
            At 05:39:42, Level Change mode was engaged. The selected altitude was 32000 ft. Shortly after the
            mode change, the selected airspeed was set to 238 kt

            …At 05:40:03 Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) “DON’T SINK” alerts occurred.

            Speed set to 238 kt ? That doesnt agree with some of the claims either ( apart from during the dives) and clearly they were never 5000 ft ‘above ground.’

            They also say this
            “The last recorded pressure altitude
            was 5,419 ft on the left and 8,399 ft on the right.
            Relying on the raw data can tell you the plane was in two places 3000 ft apart at the same time

            https://flightsafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Preliminary-Report-B737-800MAX-ET-AVJ.pdf

          • Duke, from the preliminary report presentation with voice recorder data and altitudes:

            ASL = Above Sea Level
            AGL = Above Ground Level

            39:06 8,400 ft ASL
            39:22 1,000 ft AGL = 8,400 ft ASL
            40:50 request to maintain 14,000 ft ASL
            41:21 selected altitude to 14,000 ft ASL
            43:11 13,400 ft ASL
            43:45 last recorded 8,400 ASL = 1,000 ft AGL

            This presentation is consistent with the raw data and my analysis. The aircraft clearly reached a documented altitude of 13,400 ft ASL or 6,000 ft AGL.

            I suspect that confusion over this data is driving much of the discussion. The FlightRadar24 graphs are misleading because they are incomplete. My understanding is that they were among the first data published after the accident. But the preliminary report is far more complete and accurate.

          • Doesnt really clear up much as thise statements is also derived from FDR
            “The left Indicated Airspeed increased, eventually reaching approximately 458 kts and the right Indicated Airspeed reached 500 kts at the end of the recording.
            The last recorded pressure altitude was 5,419 ft on the left and 8,399 ft on the right.”

            Big differences depending on which suits your purpose. 300o ft diff in altitude and 40 kts in airspeed.
            Are any of them correct ?

          • Duke, yes we know which is correct, quite obviously the right side is correct and also agrees with the radar altimeter. The left side we know is incorrect due to loss of AoA sensor.

            This is quite apparent on the plots of the data in the preliminary report. Same is true with regard to airspeed, right side is correct. I only used the right-side or independent values in my analysis.

    • It’s too bad that Boeing has incentivized their workforce to avoid anything that could cause simulator training for pilots, as that would trigger the $1 million dollar a plane contract clause with SW Airlines. I wonder how the FAA representatives within Boeing, evaluate that into their judgements.

      • It’s interesting that airlines have required that clause. It’s not just Boeing that wants to avoid training. The intent of the clause is to incentivize the manufacturer, by passing along the airline’s training cost.

        Maybe if training was a universal requirement, neither the incentivization nor that clause would be needed. I know many of you will say this would have favored selection of Airbus, but maybe that is a way to incentivize both Boeing and Airbus to keep moving their designs forward. Training and associated cost would be assured regardless of platform or generation.

        • a question of product competitiveness.

          Contrary to what Boeing says
          737MAX with additional training requirement is less competitive increasing distance to the competitors product.
          low price plus “no training” is what garnered Boeing some orders by just about balancing the extra cost for conversion to a decidedly different offer ( A320 ).
          Obviously this has been illuminated differently for PR purposes. 🙂

          • I agree, the point was that airlines are complicit, otherwise they would not insist on the training clause. They reward the manufacturer for avoiding training. That says that cost is more important to them than training.

            I’m saying that Boeing is responding to a customer demand, but maybe that shouldn’t be. Maybe we should view training as a value unto itself, and not try to avoid it. Especially when pilot errors are the dominant cause of accidents.

          • @Rob.

            They did not force Boeing to make that offer.
            And afaics it is not the airlines job to ascertain that Boeing make an offer they can actually fulfill.
            competence:
            airlines fly planes.
            Boeing designs/builds planes.
            Boeing being incompetent didn’t show in the flurry of PR activity. ( Though going from 787 experience increased scrutiny would have been prudent.)

          • Uwe, from the Southwest response to Congressional criticism, it appears to be a standard type of contract clause. Probably due to their commitment to buy before the aircraft is available and costs are fully known. I doubt Boeing would commit to such a clause without being asked, or the sale depending on it.

            “We have customary language in each of our delivery contracts to hold parties accountable to previously determined benefits of launching a new aircraft type, incorporating guarantees for various items into every contract from the 737-300s to the 737 NGs, a standard practice that is not new to us, the industry or the MAX aircraft,” Southwest said.

          • @Rob, January 5, 2020 Southwest, congress …

            Rob, what do you want to tell us here?

          • Uwe, I think my point is very well established in this thread. Training should be better and Boeing is by no means alone in working to avoid it. But maybe we shouldn’t try to avoid it at all. Maybe we should view it as a safety promotion issue, rather than a cost avoidance issue. Pretty simple thesis.

        • I wonder how Insurance folks look at flight training requirements among different airlines? For small aircraft, there are substantial discounts for more experienced pilots. Do they differ between countries, because of differing training requirements?
          Do they look at the operating history of the Airline, considering accidents rates etc?
          The FAA just want’s to make sure an airline has coverage.
          ========
          https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/ost6410-2-2011.pdf
          ========
          If I insured an air carrier and they had an agreement with the airplane maker to avoid any more training, or pay $1 million per plane, on a new aircraft, that would raise a red flag with me.

          • Southwest has 9000 odd pilots…the $1 million per plane would barely cover even 1 hr of simulator training for each.

      • “I wonder how the FAA representatives within Boeing, evaluate that into their judgements.”

        I don’t think that FAA will ever judge it, instead they will be investigating…

    • Oh, for the good ole days, when pilots had flight Engineers backing them up. And a computer failure meant you had dropped your E6B.
      =======
      http://www.flyian.net/aircraft/pima/707cpt.htm
      =============
      I think a larger issue that isn’t being listed in the accident causes these days is computer automation failures. Almost every Airbus accident now, lists some automation computer system as a factor. The pilot is being shoved out of the cockpit as the Flight Engineer has been. Pilotless drones seem to be the future. In cars as well as planes.

  7. I think the railway rate of accidents is overblown, because there are accidents in countries were the railway and its environment is allowed to deteriorate far below international standards. That does not happen to aviation in quite the same way.
    If you take Europe you have very few accidents directly related to trains themselves.
    60 % of all railway accidents are related to unauthorized persons being somewhere, were they should not be.
    Do you count a blind passenger falling dead out of the landing gear well as an aircraft accident?
    If we look at the 40% accidents left. Is a level crossing accident a railway accident or do we count it with cars, bicycles or any different mode of transportation? We have also to think about that the infrastructure around railways is often a century old.
    If we deduct the unauthorized person accident and the level crossing accidents, there is not much left, that can be attributed to the running and design of trains in Europe.
    Looking at the above, the danger to passengers in the European railway system is minuscule even compared to passengers on airplanes.

    In the regards to accidents with airplanes, the aim should be to bring it as far as possible to zero. Any accident is one to much and I believe, that most entities in aviation are busy working at it.

  8. “Pilot training and experience requirements have risen significantly, most notably the increase from 250 to 1,500 flight hours required for a US Air Transport Pilot certificate.” Actually, there has been no change in the
    ATP requirement. The change effected was for pilots serving Part 121 carriers, not to the ATP rating itself. In other words, only the first officers (co-pilots) experience levels were lifted to 1500 hrs minimum.
    A very unlikely contributor to the discussed increase in safety, in my opinion. It did however contribute to the overall pilot skills of the initial hires.

    • Marshall, I’d have to disagree that the first officer requirement doesn’t affect safety. In an emergency, both pilots have to work together, and having a well-qualified partner is key. Sully has mentioned this, both with regard to his own experience on USAir 1549 with Jeff Skiles, and his support of greater general experience levels, such as the 1500 hour rule.

      Also in the Lion Air 610 flight, we saw that the captain had stabilized the aircraft against MCAS, but the first officer was not able to maintain that progress. Having a person with skills closer to those of the captain’s, would have made a difference in that flight.

  9. Scott,

    You can edit as much as you want. But the MAX can’t fly until it meets regulations.

    Specifically, you – LNA – told us that the MAX was nose happy and all that was necessary was to push the yoke down. And we should all move on.

    Rubbish. I do mean rubbish.

    I have to reply and will reply. If I’m allowed. Specifically the elevators appear to have a problem if the stabiliser is at a positive AoA. The Lion Air crash report shows it.

    I’ve said I will post on it. The Lion Air crash report provides the numbers

    But we come to your edits. The topic is airplane safety. Some of it is political. It’s to be expected. It’s what Boeing want. They want it to be political. I don’t think you should have edited the posts.

    I don’t agree with what you have done. But I understand why. Nose happy with a push on the yoke. You can’t be taken seriously. Ten months grounded for that. You have it wrong.

    If I’m allowed I will set it out. Specifically, the elevators appear to have problems when the stabiliser is at a positive AoA.

    Don’t edit people. Please. You can’t control people.

    By all means edit this,

    • Scott,

      Ask Bjorn whether the lift of a wing can be in front of or behind the CoG whilst maintaining stability. The right answer is both. Here is a reference. I’ve chosen it because the writer is American and because the reference makes clear that elevators control pitch:

      Warren F Phillips, Mechanics of Flight (2010)
      Hwving said that, Wikipidea gets it right. So there is no need for a reference.

      LNA have it wrong. Suck it up. It’s all about the elevators. If I’m allowed, I will post. But it is obvious from the JATR and Lion Air crash reports.

      Editing people. In a country of freedom and liberty. Not impressed

      • “Editing people. In a country of freedom and liberty. Not impressed”

        I don’t care if you’re impressed or not. The Reader Comment rules are clear. The discussion about the Embassy and Trump’s action are off topic and LNA is not a forum for this kind of political discussion.

        Aviation postings are the point and goal. Go ahead and post your aviation thoughts. But, as per Reader Comment rules, be civil.

        Hamilton

    • “You can edit as much as you want. But the MAX can’t fly until it meets regulations.”

      I don’t know what you are talking about. I didn’t edit your aviation remarks. I edited your political/embassy comments. The Reader Comment rules are clear.

      Hamilton

      • I”m glad that LNA offers space for commentary from readers in an open forum. Veering off topic into political discussions doesn’t promote their goal of honest airline business discussion, news and review. Pprune has very recently closed most all of their Boeing threads, especially in their Rumor and News section. Not for political reasons, but, it seems that their moderators are tired of the same items being discussed.
        =========
        https://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/628519-shut-boeing-thread.html
        ============
        There are some very knowledgeable posters there, that for the most part are very civil, and willing to share what they know. Closing down the exchanging of good technical information and ideas doesn’t promote understanding of the problems and possible improvements. Again, I”m very thankful that LNA offers this area to share our comments, concerns and questions.

  10. An interesting and impressive observation regarding safety in regards to aircraft type and region:

    The two most popular aircraft types in service are the A320 followed by the 737NG. The two biggest aviation markets are USA and China.

    No A320 family has ever had a passenger fatality from an accident in either of these countries, and the same goes for the 737NG* not including the passenger who died in the unfortunate engine explosion 2 years ago. That is very impressive considering the tens(hundreds?) of millions of flights accumulated.

    • Air Inter A320 near Strasbourg 92 , 87 died. That was 4 years after the Air France crash that killed 4 near Mulhouse

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