Among the challenges of writing and producing a publication for a global market is, first, to make that publication fit the market, speaking from a global perspective, presenting global news. That, we at Flight Safety Foundation believe, is our mission and our obligation.
The second challenge is to deal with charges that the publication has a regional bias, dominated by information from and for that region. Those two issues have been part of my life for more than 31 years now, first with an airline business publication, and now with AeroSafety World.
That regional bias charge starts easily enough; just note the location of the publication’s editorial office and, presto, you’re there. Some publications have tried “neutral” sites as editorial headquarters, yet still get tarred with that regional brush, just a different region. There’s no way to avoid this part of the problem.
The amount of information coming from any region alters the reporting balance. For all of my experience, that flow of information was and remains heavily influenced by the fact that still, in 2010, the largest air transport market is North America, with 31.1 percent of both the passenger and revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) shares of the world market, according to Air Transport World magazine. Rapidly rising and soon to overtake North America is the Asia/Pacific market, with more than 28 percent of world passengers and RPKs, and Europe is nearly level with more than 27 percent of passengers and RPKs. In the corporate aviation market, the overwhelming majority remains in North America, but with a shrinking share.
This nearly balanced airline traffic flow is a recent development; North America primarily, followed by Europe, used to dominate, and therefore information systems in those areas were developed by the industry to feed the need to know what is going on. Those systems are not yet fully developed in Asia/Pacific, and the consequence of this unbalanced information heritage is that there simply is more information being put out by entities in the more mature markets.
In addition, the preeminent aviation regulators and safety panels were and remain in North America and Europe, with Australia coming up strong. For the rest of the world, and especially the parts that need it the most, there is precious little safety information coming out, and even though accidents may be numerous there, reports on the accidents are either insubstantial or totally absent.
Finally, there is the issue of language: We’re getting better at this, but we are limited in what we can read that is produced elsewhere in the world if it isn’t in English.
We are concerned about this issue: In our recent reader survey, we asked what word best describes ASW’s coverage of aviation industry safety. We were gratified that 74.3 percent of 845 readers participating in the study said “global.” Some 16.8 percent said we have a North American flavor, and 3.8 percent said European.
Then we ran a crosstab against the location of people giving us these answers. Of that group who answered “global,” 34.5 percent are North America-based, but 28.2 percent are from Europe, followed by 10 percent from Australia. Of the group who believe ASW has a North American perspective, 41.7 percent are from Europe and 29.5 percent are from North America. Some 45.5 percent of the group who said we have a European bias are from Europe. Go figure.
Be assured that we are striving to reach a 100 percent “global” response.