Aviation industry tackles safety issues as travel picks up

Kelly Yamanouchi, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Business News

A series of troubling airline incidents and upheaval at aircraft manufacturer Boeing have raised questions about air safety, as more travelers take to the skies this spring and look toward summer trips.

Aviation industry experts say flying remains one of the safest forms of transportation. The U.S. passenger airline industry also hasn’t had a major fatal crash since 2009.

But in the wake of recent headline-grabbing incidents, including a door plug ejecting out of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max and incidents at United and Southwest, industry leaders acknowledge the need for work to maintain the safety record U.S. airlines have established over the years.

“We have enjoyed in the U.S., for the past couple of decades, a very safe system,” said Hassan Shahidi, president of the Flight Safety Foundation, a nonprofit that does research, education and communications to improve aviation safety.

His foundation released a 2023 safety report showing no fatal jet airliner accidents, but Shahidi added: “We’re all worried that we might have complacency, we might have reduced margins of safety, because we’re not paying attention to safety culture and safety management.”

After intense scrutiny that followed the door plug incident on the Alaska flight in January, Boeing CEO David Calhoun late last month announced plans to step down.


Calhoun in a memo to employees called the accident “a watershed moment for Boeing.”

“We must continue to respond to this accident with humility and complete transparency. We also must inculcate a total commitment to safety and quality at every level of our company,” he said in the memo. “The eyes of the world are on us, and I know we will come through this moment a better company, building on all the learnings we accumulated as we worked together to rebuild Boeing over the last number of years.”

‘Changed ... my perspective’

This month, safety concerns raised by a whistleblower at Boeing prompted new scrutiny and plans for a Senate hearing.


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