Some Say FAA Safety Goals Achieved

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Although they probably knock on wood at every opportunity, FAA officials have earned some bragging rights when it comes to the decade-long focus on flight safety. It's now been almost five years since American Airlines Flight 587 went down in New York City, which the FAA sees as the last "major" airliner crash in the U.S. In 1997, not long after TWA Flight 800 exploded off Long Island and ValuJet 592 plowed into the Florida Everglades, Al Gore headed a White House commission that set the goal of reducing accidents by 80 percent over the next decade. According to a USA Today report, we've almost reached that goal. In fact, if you accept USA Today's methodology, your chances of being killed while flying on a domestic airliner within the U.S., Canada, Europe or Japan in the past five years dropped to zero. Clearly, those stats don't include accidents like the structural failure that killed 20 people on a Chalk's Ocean Airways plane late last year or the Jetstream crash in Kirksville, Mo., two years ago that killed 13 people. Nevertheless, when it comes to the big iron, safety is improving. According to the newspaper, the odds of dying in a plane crash are improving everywhere, even in developing countries, where 10 years ago you ran a one-in-500,000 risk. That's now improved to one in 2 million. Flights between developed countries now carry a one-in-8-million risk of death compared to one in 6 million 10 years ago.