Wednesday, March 7, 2012

West airliners remain a high class operation


The industry’s global accident rate in 2011 in which an aircraft is destroyed or substantially damaged was 0.37, or the equivalent of one accident every 2.7 million flights, compared to 0.61 the previous year.

As I have mentioned, there are 3 classes of operation:  low, medium and high.  They are classed by the odds of catastrophic failure.

Low Class

-Italian cruise ships, The African Queen, nuclear power plants.

Medium Class

-transit and cars, highways, ships

High Class

-boilers, elevators, aircraft

Low class involves operator-class intellect.  To paraphrase the hero of the African Queen:  "I'm not fixing it, because I like kicking it.  Gives meaning to my life!"  The is the attitude of all operators who can't see past their collective noses.  The odds of major death is 1 in 500 per year.

For medium and high class, you need mass distribution and market pressure.  Old Detroit car quality was low class, but having all these cars blowing up, caused people to avoid these cars.  Now, safety is medium class, about 1 in 10000.  It requires a lot of designer brains, top engineers, etc.  People will drive in cars as long as friends of friends aren't getting killed.  The don't read the newspapers about this.

High class requires market pressure, mass distribution, and a great sensitivity to newspapers.  Thus, people will avoid flying if they read about an accident involving a western aircraft.  Nobody cares about Russian planes!  Elevators as well.  The odds, as stated above are beyond 1 in a million.  This requires tremendous engineering talent, and great attention to parts, replacements, etc.  All technical people must have a long view, and be sensitive to low odds.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

People have no idea about risk, and relative risk. Hell, people still smoke, drive, and walk down the street. BTW, you do know about the elevator failure in 700 U.? Only a slight sag/slip. Clearly, they were contracted out. After the elevator was underway, I liked to muse out-loud if this was the one that failed. HA!
Peter, hummin near my namesake city.