Growing airline industry forces safety upgrades

Southwest airlines is being hit with a $12 million in penalties by the FAA

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WWLP)– More people than ever are traveling by airplane, but with an increased number of passengers comes an increased need for safety.  22News found out what the FAA says it’s doing to keep up with the growing airline industry.

Last year alone, more than three billion people traveled by airplane, and every day the number of people that get on a plane around the world is roughly the same amount of people that populate New York City; more than eight million.

The airline industry had a difficult two weeks of tragedies this month, including the plane shot down over eastern Ukraine, has some questioning the safety of the airline industry.

The industry argues that series of crashes were rare and that it is still safer than ever to fly.

22news is working for you with a look at the number of airline deaths by decade:

  • In the 1970s, there were 26 deaths for every 10 million passengers.
  • In the 1980s, there were 11 deaths per 10 million passengers.
  • In the 1990s, there were 8 deaths for every 10 million passengers.
  • Since the year 2000, there were less than 3 deaths for every 10 million passengers.

22News asked the Federal Aviation administration exactly what they are doing to keep you safe every time you fly.  They responded with the following statement:

“Travel on U.S. airlines is the safest it’s ever been. Our impressive safety record is due in part to the aviation industry and government voluntarily investing in the right safety enhancements to reduce the fatality risk in commercial air travel in the United States. The work of the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), along with new aircraft, regulations, and other activities, reduced the fatality risk for commercial aviation in the United States by 83 percent from 1998 to 2008. The increasing number of flights requires greater emphasis on acquiring, sharing, and analyzing aviation safety data.  Using incident data, CAST is examining emerging and changing risks to identify prevention strategies. We’ve moved beyond the “historic” approach of examining past accident data to a more proactive approach that focuses on detecting risk and implementing mitigation strategies before accidents or serious incidents occur. The goal over the next decade is to transition to prognostic safety analysis and to reduce the U.S. commercial fatality risk by 50 percent from 2010 to 2025.”

The FAA has also made headlines this week as they proposed the second largest set of fines in its history to Southwest Airlines.

The discount carrier is being hit with $12 million in penalties by the FAA.  One of the violations the FAA is claiming is that Southwest did not follow proper procedures while replacing fuselage skins during a makeover of their planes back in 2006.

The FAA gave 22News a news release on the issue, in which they said “safety is out top priority and that means holding airlines responsible for the repairs their contractors undertake.”

A spokesperson for Southwest says they will respond to the FAA allegations in accordance with the policies, which requires them to do so within 30 days of the fines.

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