It would appear, rather incongruously that air travel gets safer the more planes and passengers there are whizzing around in the skies. In 2001, for example, there were 200 commercial( 6 + passengers ) air accidents involving 1,534 fatalities and yet, in 2010, by when aircraft numbers had grown substantially, these figures had fallen to 130 and 1,103 respectively. In fact, over the last 5 years, total air passenger movements are forecast to have grown 29% from 2.13 billion to 2.75 billion in 2011 so air travel is getting relatively safer in a major way.
Of course, technological advances have a lot to do with today’s superb safety levels but the human contribution can never be underestimated. It is the teams of accident investigators working in conjunction with aircraft designers and engineers who ultimately ensure that flying gets progressively safer year after year. For their part, the inspectors and surveyors at aviation regulators like the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority also play a vital role in checking the airworthiness of both aircraft and their crews on a regular basis.
Many people may be under the impression that the CAA is full of experienced aircraft engineers who just go there to wind down prior to retirement. The reality couldn’t be further removed from this perception. The organisation is known across the globe for its world class abilities and, in order to maintain these standards, it makes a huge effort to recruit and retain highly competent and able people with an invaluable blend of experience and innovative ideas.
All the accumulated knowledge of the aviation industry since its inception is there to be found under one roof and it is continually being augmented by the cross-fertilisation of ideas.
George Monteiro is typical of the licensed aircraft engineers who now work for the CAA. He surveys aircraft and oversees log-book history to ensure they are fully compliant and up to date with procedures.
“The biggest challenge is learning to manage your own time,” he says. “There’s so much and such a variety of things to do. One day there might be the excitement of getting a new aircraft straight from the factory and having to make sure it meets all approved modifications – but it’s just as exciting meeting your daily objectives and your overall goal, which is primarily to regulate air safety.
“In doing so you appreciate what great people you’re working with. When you evaluate an aircraft and there’s nothing wrong with it, it shows that the person before you – and the person before that person – is doing an amazing job!
“That’s the key,” he enthuses. “Yes, the job does a lot for you, but it’s also about what you can do for the job – taking safety to the next level.”
Daniel Kidd writes about a range of employment, recruitment and ongoing training issues. For more information please visit Aviation Jobs