Newell: Airlines should not get to choose which safety features they carry

Newell Normand
March 23, 2019 - 3:55 pm

I always thought that when you buy an airline ticket, you purchased the privilege of flying on a plane with ALL the safety features available, original equipment manufacturer parts and extraordinarily trained pilots. Turns out, that may not be the case.

A New York Times article reveals that brand new planes may lack the full plethora of safety features available. Unbeknownst to us…the traveling public…airline companies may pick and choose safety features available. Let me say that again - airline companies can decide if they want to buy all the safety features available to them.

Now that we know that. Time for us to realize this. Heavily discounted airlines tend to choose LESS safety features than others. Worse yet, it may not always be about the cost of the option. Bjorn Fehrm, an analyst at the aviation consultancy Leeham says, “They’re critical and costs almost nothing for airlines to install. Boeing charges for them, because it can. But, they’re vital for safety.”

If that’s not bad enough, airline manufacturers, and Boeing in particular, refuse to reveal the complete list of safety features they offer as options. Say what?!? That completely blows my mind.

So, where do we go from here? Maybe there should be a requirement to disclose to you and me, the traveling public, how many safety feature options the plane we’re booking has. For example: “This discount airline, in an effort to keep flying affordable, has installed 10 of the 100 safety feature options available to this particular model plane you are flying.” Full disclosure. Total transparency. Would this be too much to ask for? I don’t know. No, let me take that back…I don’t think so!

Let’s consider the following, you now dine at a restaurant that places the calorie count next to every menu item. Why? To provide us, the diners, with assistance in making educated choices, to promote good health and wellbeing. Does a steak present a greater safety concern than flying and all the while not knowing how many safety features have been purchased? Again, I don’t think so.

The airline industry is ripe for remediation on many fronts. Yes, we moan and gripe about check-in lines too long, seats too small, runway delays…but I believe all of us would trade more comfort in a minute for safety and pilot training. Airline industry, if you’re listening, this is not a want it’s an absolute need.

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