Collision Course: The Truth about Airline Safety

Overview

The airline industry is responsible for the lives of nearly half a billion people annually. As passenger loads increase, commercial air transportation grows more dangerous, and little is being done by the airlines or the Federal Aviation Administration to reverse the trend. In Collision Course, Ralph Nader and Wesley J. Smith warn that you, as an airline patron, face a growing list of perils: outmoded airline fleets, an increasing number of undertrained pilots, unreliable air traffic control equipment, aircraft ...
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Overview

The airline industry is responsible for the lives of nearly half a billion people annually. As passenger loads increase, commercial air transportation grows more dangerous, and little is being done by the airlines or the Federal Aviation Administration to reverse the trend. In Collision Course, Ralph Nader and Wesley J. Smith warn that you, as an airline patron, face a growing list of perils: outmoded airline fleets, an increasing number of undertrained pilots, unreliable air traffic control equipment, aircraft maintenance fraud, inadequate inspections, insufficient crashworthiness, overcrowded airspace... even terrorism. Nader and Smith not only reveal how the lives of airline passengers are put at risk, they also outline specific steps the airlines, the FAA, and you can take to restore commercial aviation safety and reliability. Collision Course isn't just another expose of public endangerment by industry, nor is it merely another indictment of bureaucratic complacency. It's a call to action that could prevent thousands of unnecessary deaths and injuries. This is one book that no airline passenger, carrier, or regulator can afford to ignore.

Two of the nation's leading consumer advocates uncover an airline safety system that is endangered by increased passenger loads, decreased operating budgets, predatory competition, and insufficient federal regulation. For each area of concern, specific solutions are proposed. A book that no passenger, carrier, or regulator can afford to ignore. 20 illus.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This book was written to alert the public to discrepancies in the information available about airline safety, the Federal Aviation Administration, air traffic control, and the airline industry's equipment. Nader and Smith, two influential consumer advocates, use documented reports, interviews, crash accounts, and other evidence to illustrate these serious concerns. Crashes, near misses, aging planes, governmental red tape, radar, air controllers, and deregulation are a few of the topics covered. The authors point out that safety innovations may be considered after an accident but are generally ignored as preventative measures. This easy-to-comprehend book should frighten or nudge readers into writing their congressional representatives to complain about some of the ancient regulations and laws pertaining to airline safety. For most collections.-- H. Robert Malinowsky, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago
Booknews
Nader and Smith warn of the increasing list of dangers facing airline passengers, and outline specific steps the airlines, the FAA, and airline patrons can take to restore commercial aviation safety and reliability. Necessary (though not pleasant) reading. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Mary Carroll
With a presidential commission currently analyzing the U.S. airline industry, Nader and Smith's comprehensive study is timely and instructive--but it won't, at least in the short term, cure anyone's fear of flying. Viewing the $75 billion commercial-aviation industry as an essential element of the nation's infrastructure, the authors sketch the development of the "system" that controls (and sometimes fails to control) airline safety and then address each aspect of the system: the Federal Aviation Administration and other government agencies; air-traffic control; the commercial aircraft fleet; airports; the impact of human and economic factors; the imapct of weather on air safety. The authors--whose most recent publication was an update of their insurance handbook --recommend limited price guidelines to prevent both over- and underpricing; making the FAA an independent agency, with airline safety as its sole responsibility and an appointed administrator tenured for 8 or 10 years; more power for the National Transportation Safety Board; replacing the Reagan Administration's rigid "cost-benefit" rule with a more flexible "reasonable passenger" or "total picture" standard for airline safety measures; tougher safety rules (especially for burgeoning commuter airlines); expanded protection for whistle blowers; and release to consumers of comparative safety information to encourage carriers to compete in this vital area. "Collision Course" suggests ways readers can improve their own odds of avoiding or surviving airline accidents and exhorts consumers to become activists for airline safety. A solidly researched, constructive analysis.
Kirkus Reviews
Or, Unsafe at Any Altitude: a measured, albeit merciless, critique of commercial aviation's safety policies and practices. Drawing on publicly available data, Nader (coauthor, The Big Boys, 1986, etc.) and Smith (Witness to Murder, 1991) make a persuasively documented, often chilling case for the proposition that in many respects flying is not safe enough. More disturbingly, they argue that the level of risk appears to be growing. Going well beyond accident and fatality statistics, the veteran consumer advocates cast a cold eye on the institutional factors that can make life-or-death differences for air travelers. Shortly after takeoff, for instance, they strafe the FAA (a slow-moving bureaucracy charged with promoting commercial aviation as well as air safety) and deregulation (in their view, an ill-advised experiment that has strained the airline industry's finances, tempting it to cut corners). Targeted as well are the deteriorating condition of the US air-traffic-control (ATC) network; the aging of America's jet fleet (now among the world's oldest); airport security; the ongoing use of dangerous (i.e., flammable and/or toxic) materials in passenger cabins; and the failure of federal officials to insist that carriers equip their planes with state-of- the-art systems. The authors' reform agenda calls for at least modified re-regulation that would subject commuter lines to the same safety standards as trunk carriers; eliminate the FAA's dual mandate and make it a genuinely independent agency with a tenured administrator; establish a separation ATC service; and scrap cost/benefit analyses of issues in which lives might be at stake. Mindful that their recommendations are unlikely tobe embraced or adopted soon, the authors close with a catalogue of tips on surviving crashes or allied emergencies—and becoming an activist in the cause of air safety. An impressive marshalling of grim fact and outraged opinion. (Twenty illustrations) (First printing of 75,000)
From Barnes & Noble
Outmoded airline fleets, under-trained pilots, overcrowded airspace--why are airlines putting passengers at risk & why is the FAA letting it happen? Here, some alarming answers, viable solutions, & survival tips.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830642717
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill School Education Group
  • Publication date: 8/1/1993
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 378
  • Product dimensions: 6.27 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader was recently named by the Atlantic as one of the 100 most influential figures in American history, one of only four living people to be so honored. The son of immigrants from Lebanon, he has launched two major presidential campaigns and founded or organized more than one hundred civic organizations. His groups have made an impact on tax reform, atomic power regulation, the tobacco industry, clean air and water, food safety, access to health care, civil rights, congressional ethics, and much more.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The challenge
Pt. I The system 1
1 The past leads to the present 3
2 The aviation safety community 9
3 Taking safety's measure 23
4 Bureaucratic quicksand 33
5 Deregulation 45
Pt. II The FAA follies 59
6 The tombstone imperative 61
7 At cross-purposes 75
8 They have those mismanagement blues 91
Pt. III Air traffic control 119
9 Flying from here to there 121
10 The controllers' unhappy decade 129
11 Troubled technology 141
Pt. IV The equipment 157
12 Aging aircraft 159
13 Crash survivability 171
14 I dotting & T crossing 193
Pt. V Airports 205
15 Murder most foul 207
16 Toward safer landings 233
Pt. VI Man, nature, & safety 257
17 Practice makes perfect 259
18 Stormy weather 291
Pt. VII Safety first 303
19 Toward a safer tomorrow 305
20 Protect yourself 329
Epilogue 343
Appendix NTSB accidents 347
Abbreviations 355
Glossary 357
References 365
Index 367
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