2017 the safest year in aviation

Dr. Edgerton preparing for his first flight of the new year
Photo Credit: Tristina Huynh

Due to advances in aviation technology and the emphasis on aviation safety, 2017 has been the safest year for flight, with fewer commercial and private aircraft accidents than ever before.

RAHS senior and Museum of Flight docent Joshua Carver believes that improving technologies contributed to aviation safety.

“I think the hope is that with every year with new technologies coming out and becoming more refined the hope is that the direct result of that is airline and air traffic travel will become much safer as a result,” said Carver, “and I think what we are seeing is a direct result of that.”  

Dan Hrehov, a substitute teacher and retired Boeing Flight Test Engineer concurs that the increase in safety and the decrease in accidents all stem from the industry’s need to adapt to major safety dangers.

“You can look at every new safety feature of the Boeing flight deck,” said Hrehov, “and trace it back to a single or series of accidents that the National Transportation Safety Board proved that this is the cause of the accident and encouraged the FAA and the industry to come up with something — either a rule change or technological advancement that the industry can recognize and of course everybody wants that.”

Hrehov also concludes that the decrease in accidents may not have been something that was caused overnight or just in 2017, instead it is the addition of safety over time and that the aviation industry has finally reached its peak of having the most safety adjustments in the aircraft at one time.

“It is a culmination of events, the airlines are more aware of the importance of safety, like we talked about the equipment is easily adapted to and the pilot community has accepted it,” said Hrehov, “it is a fruits of the labor of the past twenty years that have incorporated this technology and proliferate it throughout the industry.”

Hrehov further espouses the increase in safety all the way from large commercial airliners to smaller civilian aircraft.

“It is a culmination of those technological advances being integrated into more and more airplanes,” said Hrehov, “even in a Cessna you can get a Cessna with a graphic map and terrain awareness.”

However despite his awareness about the newer technology Hrehov believes it wasn’t any specific event, action, or regulation that placed 2017 as the safest year in aviation.

“It is hard to tell why specifically 2017 [has been the safest year] and break it down to a year,” said Hrehov, “you have to look at the trend for the last five years and ten years. We could have a mess up tomorrow and ruin 2018’s chance of being the safest year.”

Dr. Richard Edgerton, teacher at RAHS and a certified aviator and instructor has a comparable opinion towards aviation as well.

“The fundamental question really is first of all has the accident rate declined significantly,” said Edgerton, “and I can’t tell from what I see whether the change or the trend has been truly significant over the past decade but it sure looks like it has been declining.”

Edgerton concludes that while he may not know the real reason why accidents have been decreasing, he has ideas and suspicions about why safety has been on the rise.

“That can be due to a lot of different things, it could have nothing to do with training, equipment or anything like that,” sad Edgerton, “But many different groups are emphasizing judgement and many different preparations standpoints in a focused way. The evolution of that over my flight career has been very dramatic.”

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