Simon Calder: Airlines must act urgently to correct these alarming errors
Simon Calder is Travel Editor at Large for The Independent, writing a weekly column, various articles and features as well as filming a weekly video diary. Every Sunday afternoon, Simon presents the UK's only radio travel phone-in programme called The LBC Travel Show with Simon Calder (97.3 FM). He is a regular guest on national TV, often seen on BBC Breakfast, Daybreak, ITV News and Sky News. He is often interviewed on BBC Radio, particularly for BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours programme and BBC Five Live.
Friday 31 May 2013
Any traveller who normally revels in the formidable safety record of UK airlines, and cheerfully obeys the crew’s injunction to “sit back, relax and enjoy the flight”, may grip the armrests a little more tightly next time they board a narrow-bodied Airbus.
They might also peer out of the window to watch for engine cowls parting company from the aircraft during take-off.
The most alarming finding in the investigators’ interim report into the BA762 incident is that panels have become detached from engines of Airbus jets on no fewer than 37 previous occasions – all but five of them affecting the A320 family, and the majority at take-off. Until a week ago, though, they hadn’t started a fire.
In any enterprise in which human behaviour has a role to play, there is room for error. Airbus says bluntly that its smaller jets have “lower ground clearance” than larger, wide-bodied aircraft, and it appears that pilots have not always crouched down, as the manual requires, to inspect the latches.
Aviation safety is built upon the microscopic analysis of tragedy. Thankfully, the 75 passengers and five crew, not to mention the residents of south-west London, lived to tell the tale of a short and alarming flight. But airlines and manufacturers must urgently audit their records to ensure that there are no further accidents waiting to happen.
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- 4 The poorest pay the price for austerity: Workers face biggest fall in living standards since Victorian era
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