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Is flying safe? What to Know With All the News About Plane Problems – National |

It has now been 15 years last fatal accident of a U.S. aircraft, but you’d never know that reading about a spate of flight problems in the last three months.

There was a time when things like cracked windshields and minor engine problems didn’t show up in the news much.

That changed in January when a panel blocked space reserved for an unused emergency door blown off an Alaska Airlines plane 16,000 feet over Oregon. Pilots landed the Boeing 737 Max safely, but media coverage of the flight quickly overshadowed one in the United States fatal runway accident in Tokyo three days before.

And concern about flight safety – especially with Boeing aircraft – hasn’t let up.

Is flying more dangerous?

According to the simplest measurement, the answer is no. The last fatal U.S. plane crash occurred in February 2009, an unprecedented safety issue. There was 9.6 million flights last year.

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The Lack of fatal accidents However, it does not fully reflect the state of security. In the last 15 months a Flood of close calls caught the attention of regulators and travelers.

Another metric is the frequency with which pilots send an emergency call to air traffic controllers. Flightradar24, a popular tracking site, right now put the numbers together. The site’s data shows such calls have been increasing since mid-January but remain below levels seen throughout much of 2023.

Emergency calls are also an imperfect measure: the plane could not have been in imminent danger, and sometimes planes in trouble never alert air traffic controllers.

The National Safety Council estimates that Americans have a 1 in 93 chance of dying in a car accident, while the same is true for deaths in airplanes too rare to calculate the chance. Figures from the US Department of Transportation tell a similar story.

“This is the safest form of transportation ever created while about a 737 full of people die on the country’s roads every day,” said Richard Aboulafia, a longtime aerospace analyst and consultant. The Security Council estimates that more than 44,000 people died in car accidents in the United States in 2023.

A panel of experts reported in November that a shortage of air traffic controllers, outdated aircraft tracking technology and other problems posed a growing threat to safety in the skies.

“The current erosion of the safety margin in the (national airspace system) caused by the convergence of these challenges makes the current level of safety no longer sustainable,” the group said in a 52 page report.

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What’s going on at Boeing?

Many, but not all, of the recent incidents have involved Boeing aircraft.

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Boeing is a $78 billion company, a leading U.S. exporter and a century-old company. iconic name in aircraft construction. It is half of the duopoly that, along with Europe’s Airbus, dominates production of large passenger aircraft.

However, the company’s reputation was severely damaged by the crashes two 737 Max jets – one in Indonesia in 2018 the other in Ethiopia the following year 346 people died. Boeing has lost nearly $24 billion over the past five years. The company has struggled with manufacturing defects that have led to temporary delays in deliveries of 737 and long-haul 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

Boeing had finally started get going again up to the Alaska Airlines Max Blow out. Investigators have focused on bolts that help secure the door lock plate, but that was the case missing after a repair at the Boeing factory.

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The FBI is Notification of passengers about a criminal investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration strengthens supervision of the company.

“How is production going at Boeing? There have been problems in the past. You don’t seem to be able to find a solution.” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said last month.

CEO David Calhoun says whatever conclusions investigators come to about the Alaska Airlines bankruptcy, “Boeing is responsible for what happened on the Alaska plane.” “We caused the problem and we understand that.”

Click here to play the video: “How will Boeing bounce back after a series of aviation accidents?”

How will Boeing bounce back after a series of aviation accidents?

The problems attributed to an aircraft manufacturer can vary greatly.

Some are design flaws. The original Boeing Max was a failure a single sensor caused a flight control system to point the plane’s nose downward with great force – this happened before the deadly Max crashes in 2018 and 2019. In aviation, the maxim is that the failure of a single part should never be enough to bring down a plane bring to.

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In other cases, such as the door socket that flew off the Alaska Airlines plane, a mistake apparently was made on the factory floor.

“Anything that causes death is worse, but design is much more difficult to deal with because you have to locate the problem and fix it,” said Aboulafia, the aerospace analyst. “In the manufacturing process, repair is incredibly easy – don’t do the thing that caused the failure in the first place.”

Manufacturing quality also appears to be an issue in other incidents.

Earlier this month, the FAA proposed ordering airlines to check the cable bundles around the spoilers of Max jets. The order was triggered by a report that a commercial aircraft on a flight in 2021 caused electrical wires to chafe due to a faulty installation causing a commercial aircraft to tilt 30 degrees in less than a second.

Even small things are important. After a LATAM Airlines Boeing 787 flying from Australia to New Zealand this month went into a nosedive and recovered, Boeing reminded airlines to check the switches on the motors that move the pilots’ seats. Published reports state that accidental activation of the switch by a flight attendant was likely the cause the jump.

Click here to play video: “Business Matters: FAA says Boeing cannot increase 737 Max production until quality and safety culture improves”

Business Matters: FAA says Boeing cannot increase 737 Max production until quality and safety culture improves

Investigations into some incidents indicate likely maintenance deficiencies, and many bottlenecks are due to errors by pilots or air traffic controllers.

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This week, investigators revealed that an American Airlines jet flying over a runway in Texas had undergone brake replacement work four days earlier and that some hydraulic lines to the brakes were defective not properly reattached.

Earlier this month, a Tire fell off A United Airlines Boeing 777 took off from San Francisco, and an American Airlines Boeing 777 landed in Los Angeles if necessary flat tire.

A piece of the aluminum skin was discovered missing when a United Boeing 737 landed in Oregon last week. Unlike the brand-new Alaska jet, which had a broken body, the United plane was 26 years old. The airline is responsible for maintenance.

When a FedEx cargo plane landing in Austin, Texas, last year flew close above a departing Southwest Airlines jet, it was discovered that an air traffic controller had cleared both planes Use the same runway.

Click here to play the video: “Boeing has struggled with safety and quality problems.” What does this mean for the aircraft manufacturer's reputation?

Boeing has struggled with safety and quality problems. What does this mean for the aircraft manufacturer’s reputation?

Aviation industry officials say the most concerning events involve problems with flight controls, engines and structural integrity.

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Other things such as cracked windshields and aircraft overlapping each other at the airport rarely pose a safety risk. Warning lights can indicate a serious problem or a false alarm.

“We take every event seriously,” said former NTSB member John Goglia, citing that vigilance as one reason for the current accident-free streak. “The challenge for us in aviation is to keep them there.”

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