Déjà Vu 1972

Great news regarding the commercial airline accident record in the U.S. sparks discussions of ... more regulation?


A recent [October 19] AP story was picked up by AviationPros (aviationpros.com), where I read it with a feeling of déja vu dating back to 1972.

The story reported the wonderful and wondrous fact that in the USA there has not been a fatal airline crash in 43 months. It went on to say that this is “the longest period without a fatal domestic accident since commercial aviation expanded after World War II.”

That’s a helluva record, and USA airports — the beginning and end of every flight — can be proud of their contribution.

Just think of all those flights carrying all those people all over our country in all of that weather, day in and day out at those great speeds. The safety record boggles the mind and probably exceeds anybody’s idea of what is possible.

And remember, this was during a period of strong — even desperate — competition.

Let everybody be joyous, shout hallelujah, and sing praises to this great achievement.

But wait — I just read further down in the news story. What is this? Could it be true? Is there a drawback to a perfect safety record? The story says that, “... One consequence of having such a remarkable record is that it’s difficult to justify imposing costly new safety rules on the economically fragile industry.”

Wait a minute — shouldn’t we, just maybe, take this record as proof positive that the industry is doing a damned-fine safety job itself and might not need more safety regulation?

This is where déja vu 1972 comes in. In 1972, I, wife, three kids, one cat and one dog, all lived in a house we bought for — listen to this, young folks — only $18,600 (made a great profit on that house). Figuring we needed to economize, I acquired a new subscription to Consumer Reports (CR). The first issue contained an article on buying eggs. The magazine concluded that, although the egg industry had a good record, CR believed the industry needed more guvmint regulation.

I wrote CR and canceled my subscription, explaining that I had been eating eggs and putting up with guvmint all my life. I had never seen a bad egg but had seen a lot of bad guvmint.

I wonder. You reckon maybe the guvmint should back off on additional airline regulation a bit and instead go study at the knees of the industry? Maybe they could learn how this remarkable record was achieved. You reckon maybe we should reward the industry with a bit of praise and acclaim? Perhaps we have forgotten that old truth, “Behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated.”

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