Leading article: A reform to make our skies safer

Related Topics

Bahia Bakari, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, was found clinging to aeroplane wreckage eight miles from the island of Le Grande Comore on Tuesday. Her recovery is one comfort in a tragedy that killed the 152 other passengers on Yemenia flight IY626, a crash which raises fresh fears about the safety of international air travel.

Their itinerary began in Paris aboard another aircraft, an Airbus A330, which fully met French and European airline standards but before the journey ended, the flight touched down in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, whereupon passengers were transferred to an older Airbus A310. Banned from French airspace after an inspection in 2007 revealed "numerous" defects, it was this – less safe – aircraft that went down. The practice of airlines using well-maintained aircraft for journeys into European airspace before moving passengers to poorer flights is not new, but little has been done to diminish this dangerous practice by our aviation regulators.

This week the European Union Transport minister, Antonio Tajani, suggested an international "blacklist" of carriers. But there are reasons to suspect that this would not be effective. Firstly, while the number of nations that could sign up to the EU list could be broader, nations with lax safety standards are unlikely to prove effective enforcers. Secondly, the most thorough blacklist in operation, administered by the EU, did not prevent this crash since Yemenia Air was not on it – even though the carrier was forbidden from servicing the jets of European carriers in February.

A simple and effective reform could be made, however. The framework of blacklisting used in both France and the EU can currently bar all carriers in certain countries, specific carriers in some countries, and parts of fleets of some airlines. This final facility should be immediately scrapped and replaced with a simpler rule: if an airline continues to use even one aircraft with a historically poor safety record, the carrier should be banned from flying in European airspace.

That Yemenia saw financial advantage in operating a two-tier system of aircraft safety – only some were safe enough for wealthy Europeans – should have been cause to ban its entire fleet.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

Government hails latest GDP figures, but there is still room for scepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little