HOUSTON, TEXAS â€“ September 24, 2007 â€“ The explosion of an engine on a China Airlinesâ€™ aircraft in Naha, Okinawa, on August 20, 2007, was no surprise to ASI Group staff members. Analysts of ASI, a leading provider of global risk-management services, have given China Airlines a low safety rating for years in their online database Airline Insider, a compilation of research and analysis about commercial air carriers, charter and helicopter services worldwide. ASI has continually graded China Airlines as â€œinadequateâ€ or â€œquestionable,â€ citing the airlinesâ€™ lengthy list of incidents along with its maintenance and training procedures, which have repeatedly been called into question.
â€œConsidering the relatively small size of China Airlinesâ€™ fleet, theyâ€™ve had an unusually high number of significant accidents,â€ said Charlie LeBlanc, president of ASI Group. â€œThose who subscribe to Airline Insider know this.â€
Subscribers to the system are often corporate travel and security managers who must educate themselves about the safety issues surrounding international commercial carriers. Frequently their employees must use airlines they donâ€™t know much about. Airline Insider gives them the facts so they can decide the best carrier in which to book a flight or whether to choose another mode of transportation altogether.
â€œAirline Insider is one of the reputable sources for airline safety information that we make available to our managers and travelers,â€ said BPâ€™s Global Aviation Safety Manager, Jim Tonelli. â€œThis information helps them in their decision making concerning which airlines to use in international and domestic operations.â€
Concern about airline safety is nothing new. Other research and analytical firms have attempted to quantify airline safety, basing assessments solely on the number of deadly accidents a carrier suffered. Airline Insider is different.
Analysts examine a carrierâ€™s current financial position, maintenance practice, age and type of aircraft, as well as the carrierâ€™s history of incidents, accidents, pilot training, background and experience. ASI supplies a full report for each carrier listed, which currently stands at 265 and covers 130 different countries. Airline Insider also provides the FAAâ€™s most recent International Aviation Safety Assessments (IASA) report, which focuses on the ability of each countryâ€™s civil aviation organization (not the individual air carrier) to adhere to recommended safety standards.
Consequently, ASI experts seek to analyze the airlineâ€™s current structure and to identify potential problems that could impact an airline's future safety. By using this proactive approach, ASI can often identify a troubled airline before it becomes a statistic.
Organized in a simple reference format available online, Airline Insider offers users the flexibility to list all of the airlines in the system alphabetically, by country or by region, allowing users to quickly find alternative airlines without complicated database searches.
Before booking a flight on an international carrier, travelers should ask themselves a series of questions. Does the airline have a history of fatal accidents? Is it flying new Western-built aircraft or older Russian-built planes that are 30 years old or more? Does the airline maintain an adequate maintenance program or is it cannibalizing aircraft because it canâ€™t afford spare parts?
Airline Insider answers these questions and many more. Below is a listing of the most prominent accidents from 2007. Many of these went unnoticed in the mainstream media.
â€¢ 17 July 2007: A TAM Linhas Aereas Airbus A320 skidded off a wet runway at Sao Paulo. The aircraft slid across a road, crashed into buildings and hit a fuel station, sparking a fire. All 187 persons on board were killed, as well as 12 ground fatalities. Safety conditions at this airport have been seriously questioned, specifically the safety of its runways when wet. Preliminary data indicates the ground spoilers failed to deploy, and there may have been a brake failure involved.
â€¢ 28 June 2007: A TAAG Angola Boeing 737-200 crashed while attempting to make an emergency landing in M'Banza. Six people died in the mishap and a number of injuries were reported. According to reports, 78 people were on board the aircraft at the time of the crash. Preliminary reports have stated that the flight crew lost control of the aircraft during the landing, but no further details are available.
â€¢ 5 May 2007: A Kenya Airways Boeing 737-800 crashed over a remote section of rainforest in Cameroon. All 114 persons on board were killed. Reports indicate the aircraft emitted an automated distress signal before going down. Airline representatives have stated that the aircraft was approximately six months old.
â€¢ 7 March 2007: A Garuda Boeing 737-400 overshot the runway while landing in Yohyakarta, bursting into flames. Twenty-one of the 140 persons on board were killed. The aircraft landed hard, destroying the landing gear. Fuel from the right wing leaked into the hot engine, causing the aircraft to burst into flames. There were a number of Australian diplomats and reporters among the passengers. After coming to rest, passengers fled the aircraft while it continued to burn. Reports indicate that the pilot and co-pilot were arguing over the approach speed as the aircraft was landing, with the co-pilot arguing for an abort and go-around.
â€¢ 29 October 2006: An ADC Airlines Boeing 727 crashed, then burst into flames shortly after taking off from Abuja, killing 97 of the 104 persons on board. The cause of the mishap has yet to be determined, but weather conditions at the time were reported to be quite poor. Initial reports from experts called the incident 'avoidable.' Several high-profile persons were among the dead, including Nigeria's Muslim spiritual leader.
â€¢ 29 September 2006: A Gol Boeing 737-800 crashed in the Brazilian jungle after experiencing a midair collision with a corporate aircraft. While the corporate aircraft landed later with no injuries and only slight damage to one wing, all contact with the Gol aircraft was lost. All 154 persons on board were killed. Preliminary reports indicated that the corporate aircraft was flying at the wrong altitude at the time of the crash.
You can visit ASI Group at booth 969 during ASIS Internationalâ€™s Annual Seminar and Exhibits, September 24-27, 2007 in Las Vegas, NV.