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Can a Bad Economy Make Aviation Accidents Worse?

With the economy in poor condition still, some safety experts are warning that businesses may be cutting costs and increasing the odds of accidents in doing so. Some worry that small businesses and larger companies may be cutting costs in ways that compromise safety as well as customer service. Some industry insiders working with aerospace industries have expressed worry that airline companies may be among those who are cutting safety as they cut costs.

One area of concern is airplane maintenance. While safety regulators set standards for maintenance, regular maintenance takes an airplane out of circulation for up to a week. During that week, the airplane is in a hangar getting repairs and is not making any money. Industry insiders note that during a tough economy airlines want to keep planes as full as possible and in the sky as possible.

Another issue is the use of vendors maintain airplanes. These independent vendors work either in Central America or near airports and work quickly on a number of planes. In some cases, language issues or lack of training can mean airplane maintenance mistakes. In fact, federal safety officials have voiced concerns about vendors since 2005, but vendors continue to be used for airplane maintenance because they are quick and inexpensive.

Poor management practices and bad maintenance are often at least secondary causes of aviation accidents and their resultant personal injuries. The Turkish Airlines Flight 981 crash, for example, was caused when a baggage handler was unable to read the directions for the locking of the cargo bay door. The door opened during the flight, causing decompression and a crash.

Another issue might be with replacing planes. Airplanes need to be replaces regularly as they wear out. Some industry experts worry that airlines will be less likely to buy newer, safer planes while the economy is doing poorly and fewer people are flying. A Southwest Airlines 737, however, developed decompression after fatigue cracks developed in the craft. Flying planes that are past their prime compromises passenger safety.

Flying continues to be much safer than other modes of travel. Passengers are far more likely to be injured or killed in a car accident than in an aviation accident. Nevertheless, it is important for airlines and airplane manufacturers to adhere to safety measures and to make safety a top priority.