In 2017 there were no deaths attributed to jet aircraft accidents. Globally. Out of tens of millions of flights that operated around the world not a single jet aircraft crash took lives. That is an absolutely incredible accomplishment. It also managed to generate some controversy when Donald Trump tried to take credit for it on Tuesday morning.
Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news – it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
This self-aggrandizing statement is an insult to the tens of thousands of aviation professionals around the world who work tirelessly on testing systems, managing repairs and maintenance, operating air traffic control, and the tons of other services that go in to making sure every flight is a safe one. Also, the lack of passenger deaths in the US is hardly a rare occurrence these days. The data is impressive:
Scheduled U.S. passenger airline fatalities by year since 9/11/2001:
2009: 50 (Colgan 3407)
2001: 265 (American 587)
— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) January 2, 2018
That’s right. Zero fatalities on scheduled US flights since 2009; longer if only jets are counted. Globally the numbers are still impressive, though not zeros.
.@FlightGlobal #airsafety analysis: Airlines' year of zero passenger fatalitieshttps://t.co/MvKx9u6k9R (last 10 years – western-built jet pax fatalities (all-risk):
— Max Kingsley-Jones (@MaxK_J) January 2, 2018
So, did any changes to US policy or procedures in 2017 contribute to improving aviation safety? Turns out quite the opposite.
This man did effing ZERO to contribute to aviation safety. Politics aside, he’s got some balls trying to take credit from DECADES of efforts of aviation professionals. https://t.co/hJZxyzgUkX
— Phil Derner, Jr. (@PhilDernerJr) January 2, 2018
There were two major aviation policy efforts in play in 2017: ATC privatization and the Electronics ban. Neither is good for aviation safety.
The electronics ban cause flights from 10 airports inbound to the United States to not allow passengers to carry devices larger than a cell phone in the cabin. The affected airlines responded by collecting the “dangerous” devices from passengers, boxing them up and putting them in the baggage hold. Carrying the Li-ion batteries as cargo is in direct contravention of multiple recommendations and policies on a global scale. It was a terrible plan when it was implemented, stoking concerns from IATA, trade groups and anyone with insight into the cargo safety space. Fortunately it was a relatively short-lived ban – just a few months – but the increased risk during that time was very real. That same risk caused airlines to ban hoverboards in 2015 and most “smart” luggage batteries in 2018. The Trump Administration ignored those risks in favor of the ban policy.
On the ATC privatization front the safety implications are less clear. Supposedly it will speed NextGen deployment, something that will improve safety. But it is unclear that privatization is really necessary to get there versus just having the government properly fund the FAA today.
So, yeah, the President is taking credit for things that have nothing to do with his actions. And disrespecting tens of thousands of hard working professionals in the process. Nice job, buddy.
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