Aviation Safety: Is the Flying Public Concerned?

On Aviation™
5 min readJan 11, 2024
Photo by Cody Fitzgerald on Unsplash

The year just started, and we already have two major aviation incidents involving airliners: Is the general flying public becoming more concerned about air travel safety?

Why is this important: For the most part, unless an event is a major headline item in the news, the general public does not concern itself too much about aviation safety. The vast majority of all flights originate and terminate around the world with no incident and are quite safe. However, over the years, every once in a while in aviation an accident or incident gets so much press coverage, that the general public becomes aware, and in many cases becomes spooked by the news. We had two of those incidents in the very first week of January 2024. What are some takeaways here?

  • The general public’s trust in the safety of aviation is not without merit. However, an increase in the frequency of accidents and mishaps may cause the flying public to reevaluate that trust.
  • When major events come across the radar of the flying public it generally wants answers. Are the answers it is getting enough to quell its concerns?
  • Efforts need to be made to ensure that we are not only maintaining but building on the trust that the flying public places in air travel.

Get Involved: Given the two major airline incidents at the beginning of this year, are you concerned about travel safety? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

The flying public’s trust in the safety of air travel.

  • Through many mistakes in the past, many of which are tragic, the aviation industry has worked very hard over the years to make air travel as safe as it is today. This level of dedication to safety has led to a tremendous amount of trust from the flying public in the industry itself. As one can see from the aforementioned, this trust is not without merit.
  • The problem with trust, however, is that while it takes a very long time to build, it can be lost relatively quickly. Recent events related to aviation safety might cause the traveling public to reevaluate the massive amount of trust placed in air travel. Given the challenges already in store for the aviation industry, particularly airlines, the last thing the industry wants is for air travelers to lose faith in their ability to keep them safe, either in the air or on the ground.

On Aviation™ Note: it is always worth reminding the reader that the vast majority of flights around the world begin and end without incident. It is simply that their travel is so high profile that accidents get heavily reported, especially when they lead to fatal injuries. Therefore, it can always seem as if the aviation industry is not as safe as the statistics imply.

The flying public seeks answers.

  • Generally, air travelers go about their business, flying on airplanes without thinking about incidents or accidents. The trust they have in air travel gives them the peace of mind that they need to go by their business without worrying about incidents or accidents.
  • However, when they are high-profile accidents such as what happened on 2 January 2024 between Japan Airlines, and a Japanese Coast Guard aircraft, and the inflight blowout of Alaska airline 737 MAX in the same week, will cause the flying public to seek answers to the questions about aviation safety, as it tries to figure out what could’ve caused these incidents.
  • Officials within the aviation industry will need to respond appropriately, not only to provide accurate and timely information to the flying public but also to assure the public that there is no degradation in air travel safety — if that is indeed the case.

On Aviation™ Note: Too often information that comes out from the NTSB and the FAA after an incident is geared towards the technical consumer of that information such as government officials, airlines, and manufacturers. However, there needs to be more discussions that have air travelers in mind, and not merely leave them to the mercies of sensational news headlines.

Nurturing trust.

  • There are times when air travelers are concerned about travel safety, there are other times when they are not so concerned, and still, yet other times when they don’t even think about it
  • Whatever the case may be, there needs to be an active effort to maintain and build upon the trust that the flying public has for air travel. This is vital for the health of the aviation industry. We must be reminded that the ultimate beneficiary and patron of the aviation industry is the flying public
  • That being said, nurturing trust must be done with truth and accurate information. A simple rule of thumb to build and maintain trust is for the key players within the industry as it relates to air travel safety to be open and honest, responsible, accountable, and willing to be vulnerable enough with the flying public to let them know what these key players do not know.

On Aviation™ Note: To build and maintain trust, there’s no place for spin, obfuscation, and the like. It requires being direct and honest when incidents happen, and to start with the assumption that the flying public can handle it.

Conclusion

Aviation is relatively the safest mode of transportation when measured in incidents, accidents, and injuries fatal and otherwise per 100,000 people. In that regard, aviation is much safer than virtually all other major modes of transportation. We do not believe that the aviation safety record has been tarnished by the two events in the first week of January 2024. However, this is only the beginning of the year and we would like to caveat this by saying we do not know what the rest of the year entails, and that could change things significantly. That being said, officials must spend time building and maintaining the trust of the flying public, whenever events like these occur. Starting with the assumption that the flying public can handle the truth and that they should lead first and foremost with truth, responsibility, and accountability. Why? This is what it takes to build and maintain lasting trust in air travel.

Thank you for reading this week’s On Aviation™ full article. Given the two major airline incidents in the beginning of this year, are you concerned about travel safety? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Remember to check out our On Aviation™ Podcast and continue the conversation on our Twitter and Instagram.

Orlando — On Aviation™

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