Wall Street Journal: How the U.S. airline industry drastically improved air travel safety over the decades

More than eight billion passengers have safely traveled in the last 12 years with no fatal crashes

Since the mid-1990s, the U.S. airline industry has experienced a remarkable transformation in its safety standards and expectations — so much so that no commercial airline in this country has had a fatal crash in the last 12 years. These efforts to improve air travel have largely been driven internally by dedicated pilots and carriers, including those in the Air Line Pilots Association, who understand the value of collaboration and data-driven solutions in creating a culture of safety and success across the industry.

Through the efforts of the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), a government-industry team focused on reducing the fatality risk through data-driven risk prioritization methodology, crucial improvements to aviation safety have been developed and implemented. Some of these improvements include:

  • Voluntary reporting and data-sharing programs to improve outcomes collaboratively.
  • Improved data systems to identify and fix concerns before risks arise.
  • Increased pilot training requirements to limit reliance on autopilot and decrease the chance of error.

Additionally, one of the most profound safety improvements was the increase in pilot training, qualification, and experience requirements for those serving as pilots in commercial airline operations. Before stronger qualifications were enacted in 2010, a pilot sitting in the right seat on most passenger flights only needed a commercial pilot’s certificate which could be obtained in as few as 190 hours of flight experience.

Thanks to the ongoing efforts of dedicated aviators, passengers today benefit from the lowest fatality rate in history — just one for every 120 million departures — making commercial flights one of the safest ways to travel in the nation.

Read the full piece in the Wall Street Journal here: The Airline Safety Revolution

Airline pilots make our skies the safest in the world

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