Aviation safety, Eid vacation and summer

Nabila Al-Anjari

Several civil aviation-related developments have recently taken place. It is worth to take them into consideration, especially when we are about to start the high travel season and the Eid Al-Fitr vacation, followed by the long summer vacation that most Kuwaitis spend abroad. The developments include a US warning to all commercial flights flying over the Gulf to be highly cautious, the repeated crises resulting from Boeing crashes and other problems in less than six months, with the result that many carriers stopped using that type of aircraft, including some GCC carriers.

The aforementioned developments call for more caution, not only by the authorities and bodies concerned with civil and commercial aviation in Kuwait, but also passengers and travel agents due to the following threats:

1- The first threat lies in a warning made by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on May 17 to all commercial flights over Gulf waters and the Gulf of Oman to be aware of accelerating military activities and political tension. It even included frank warnings of possible military mishaps, misjudgment or confusion in identifying flights.

2- The second threat lies in the repeated Boeing 737 Max crashes within a few months starting with an Indonesian flight in October killing all 189 onboard, then an Ethiopian plane in March killing all 157 onboard, and finally the deviation of a Miami flight in the beginning of May.

Many countries worldwide, including Kuwait and other GCC states, immediately stopped all flights of this type of aircraft. Boeing is working on studying and handling the fatal faults in this model of aircraft. It is not yet known whether thousands of these planes still in use worldwide will wait for Boeing’s final decision – whether they would be repaired or adjusted or the owners will eventually sell them to recoup part of their losses.

Onboard, airport alertness
Having made this review, one should consider the following:
1- Many airlines have not yet declared suspending flights on Boeing 737 Max planes.

2- Suspending Boeing planes does not mean that other planes are risk-free. Contrarily, the growing demand for other aircraft (such as Airbus) might increase the possibility of mishaps in those planes.

3- Recent studies on airline spending on safety procedures, which was published two weeks ago in the Harvard Business Review, shows that leading companies can sometimes be less safe than others and more capable to tolerate crises and public anger. The study shows a direct connection between airline profits and their safety factor. They also show that regardless of the number of planes put out of service, what staff members do on board or on the ground is more important.

4- In view of the above, aviation safety measures should be prioritized by all parties involved in travelling, even at the expense of delaying some flights to achieve more safety, just like what Kuwait’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) did when it banned Boeing 737 Max flights from flying over Kuwait.

For some people, these guidelines might spoil the summer season, but they will surely make it less dangerous, especially for families who might prefer to postpone a trip, change airlines or even change destinations to get more safety.

By Nabila Al-Anjari