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Category Archives: Safety and Security

The political illusion of security

The way airline security has been organized since 9/11 imposes an enormous burden on passengers both in terms of money and time. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that the cost of security has risen to at least €6 billion ($7.4 billion) a year.

It takes passengers longer and longer to get through security. Before 9/11, the average throughput of an airport security checkpoint was 355 passengers per hour. By adding ever more bureaucracy this average has more than halved to 149 passengers per hour.

Given the...
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False alarm

"This is an emergency. We will shortly be making an emergency landing on water." Passengers onboard a British Airways flight from Miami to London got the fright of their lives when they heard this announcement on January 16, 2012 at around 3 a.m. It was a pre-recorded message that left the passengers in panic as they feared for their lives. Half a minute later, however, a flight attendant came on over the intercom to apologize, saying the message was played in error. A passenger said that the flight attendant's tone suggested the crew had not grasped how seriously she had...
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Has flying become safer?

Global airline safety performance is better than ever according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the industry's mouthpiece. This is based on "hull losses", accidents in which the aircraft is destroyed or substantially damaged and is not subsequently repaired.

However, hull loss is an insurance term that is more relevant for airlines’ balance sheets than for passengers’ safety.

A relatively old plane with minor damage, for example, may be a hull loss, whereas a new aircraft with comparable damage is not. Yet, there is no difference between the 2 cases...

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Upside down

An All Nippon Airways (ANA) Boeing 737 carrying 117 people nose-dived and went almost belly-up over the Pacific on September 6, 2011.

The co-pilot wanted to open the cockpit door for the captain returning from a restroom break. However, he mistook the rudder trim knob for the cockpit door lock.

The rudder knob and the door lock switch are no more than 3.9 inches (10 cm) apart. As the picture shows, unlocking the door (the small

knob) and moving the rudder left (the big knob) is...
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A kind of groin check

A full body scan is optional for all passengers. This is what the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) tells us on its web site. Thus, passengers who wish to avoid exposure to radiation or naked pictures may opt for alternative screening, including a metal detector and physical pat-down. Well, theoretically at least. What may happen in reality highly depends on TSA agents’ behavior as John Tyner, a San Diego software programmer, found out at San Diego International Airport/Lindbergh Field on November 13, 2010. A TSA officer directs him toward the full-body scanner in the security line. If Tyner says...
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Safety dancing

Many travelers consider the safety instructions that flight attendants give before departure quite boring. Right or wrong, the instructions do not need to be boring. Cebu Pacific Air, a low-cost airline in the Philippines, has its own way to draw passengers' attention to the safety instructions. If you are a male watch this video. If you are a female watch this video.The question is, however, whether passengers pay more attention to the flight attendants or to the safety instructions....
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