As summer vacation travel swings into high gear many adventuresome travelers will be prone to climbing on an aircraft operated by inexperienced, and poorly trained pilots who are flying older, poorly maintained aircraft. Yesterday’s horrific accident in Lagos, Nigeria that involved a Dana Air MD-83 that killed all 153 people aboard the aircraft along with an unknown number of victims on the ground was not an anomaly. On the same day there was another fatal aircraft accident in the area. The other crash came after 10 other people were killed when a Boeing 727 cargo plane flying from Lagos crashed Saturday in Accra, the capital of Ghana, and hit a bus, the Sunday Tribune of Nigeria reported. Many of the European Aviation Authorities have banned some of the notoriously unsafe African Airlines from operations in their country. WARNING! Avoid travel on African-based airlines.
Other third world airlines to avoid are: Any Russian airline or an airline that operates Russian built aircraft. Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the implementation of attempts at capitalism, Russia has had a burgeoning start-up airline environment, which has resulted in “fly-by-night” airlines springing up. Many of them are under-funded and operated, once again, by inexperienced and underpaid pilots. The accident and incident rate of Russian Airlines in recent years has been has been off-the-scale, inordinately high. The recent crash of the Russian jet in Jakarta, Indonesia was another good reason to avoid the Russian airlines. The Sukhoi Super 100 jet was the latest state-of-the-art aircraft designed and built in Russia. While performing a “demo” flight to dignitaries and potential purchasers, with the senior test-pilot at the controls, the aircraft slammed into a mountain near Jakarta and rescue people are still trying to get to the wreckage. Even the established Aeroflot should be avoided.
Aviation in India is also in a state of severe disarray. With the exception of Air India, an established and viable airline, I would advise against travelling on an Indian airline. There have been several incidents of drunken pilots arriving at the airport to go fly their airplanes. There is also a shortage of veteran pilots with the rapid growth of the airline industry and many of the flights are being piloted by very inexperienced aviators.
Most of the first-world industrialized countries airlines will provide the passenger with a low risk flight. Germany’s Lufthansa is operated by a culture of people who are notorious perfectionists and prone to be sure to dot the “I”s and cross the “T”s. Australia’s Quantas is another “world-class operation,” with quality cabin-service to enhance one’s travels on their long flights. Cathay Pacific is another excellent airline if you are headed to the Far East. If we take the regional carriers out of the equation, U.S. airlines that operate internationally will also provide for safe flights flown by well-trained and experienced aviators. Enjoy that international flying while you can because as the cost of jet fuel skyrockets, the already rapidly increasing airfares will increase accordingly. Bon Voyage.
This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, the author of The Rogue Aviator: in the back alleys of aviation (www.therogueaviator.com)