It has been widely reported that 2017 was commercial aviation’s safest year on record because, according to Aviation Safety Network (ASN) preliminary statistics, there were no fatal commercial passenger jet accidents. That’s great news, but don’t for a minute think that means the industry can throttle back on safety efforts. As the tragic fatal crashes of Saratov Airlines Flight 703 and Iran Aseman Airlines Flight 3704 in February showed, our work isn’t done.
Last year’s safety performance, in which there were no jet-powered commercial passenger airplane fatal accidents, is the result of years of commitment, investment and effort by organizations and individuals around the world. It is our obligation to continue this commitment to safety so future generations will benefit.
The level of safety the industry enjoys today was achieved through painstaking accident and incident investigations; through extensive research and development in training, technology, operations and human factors; and through the continuing implementation of safety management systems and state safety programs. Regulators and industry must continue to work together to raise the bar and improve an already stellar performance.
It is incumbent upon all of us to continue the processes, to make the investments of time, expertise and resources necessary to develop the technology, procedures and training that will ensure continued improvement of the industry’s safety performance well into the future.
Here at the Foundation, we spend our professional energies considering strategies to ensure that safety reigns over every aspect of our industry. This is no small goal. Aviation is complex and intricate. Modern commercial aircraft have more than a million working pieces; engines employ technically advanced components; airspace management systems handle tens of millions of flights a year; and maintenance and support organizations keep it all functioning. Risk mitigation is achieved through cooperative effort.
In aviation safety, the job is never done. This isn’t about eliminating risk — it’s about choosing to do the right thing with the information as it is presented, and addressing the problem from a team perspective. There is always more to do to continue to enhance safety, but I believe we are on the right path.