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Asia's budget airlines safety record

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Asia's budget airlines safety record

Old 17th Sep 2007, 06:35
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Asia's budget airlines safety record

there is no discussion re Lo-Co operators and safety even hinted at
Maybe there should be, perhaps we should also accept that not all 'lo-co' or 'legacy carriers' are equal? That's certainly the EU's position, I understand all Indonesian Operators are banned from EU airspace as were Phuket Air for a while a couple of years ago. I realise that neither of the above were involved in this incident but perhaps it explains why people feel entitled to speculation.

I accept that any airline, just like any car driver, can have an accident but some accidents are more avoidable than others. One things is for certain, Approach and Landing Accident Reduction is the focus of many airlines around the world. So far this year I can think of 5, not including this one, preventable hull losses due to either unstablised approaches, landing in unsuitable conditions or both. It seems we are all still tempted by 'pressonitis'. Let's hope that the lessons are learnt quickly.
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Old 17th Sep 2007, 07:30
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Ghostflyer, re
there is no discussion re Lo-Co operators and safety even hinted at
Maybe there should be, perhaps we should also accept that not all 'lo-co' or 'legacy carriers' are equal? "
Wherever there is merit, this kind of discussion and even the conclusions reached, need to take place. If it is Lo-Co, so be it, but it is not automatic.

Lo-Co in and of itself is not a formula for lower safety standards but it can also be said (and has been shown in some cases) that same formula could be more prone to safety issues depending upon how the inevitably high costs of keeping airplanes well-maintained and crews well-trained are handled and supported within the corporate structure. Put the other way, being a legacy or legacy-lo/co carrier does not equate to an automatically "higher" safety standard.

At least in North American operations, (and likely European and Australian though I cannot speak first-hand), in the end, it is the attitude and approach and therefore the leadership of the #1 person right at the top of the org-charts who must clearly broadcast a high degree of intolerance towards low safety standards and risk-taking operations. If #1 broadcasts that costs have priority, that is what everyone will do because in terms of human factors and the psychology of organizational behaviours, any lack of leadership in these areas means that it is organizationally "safe" for those in the bureaucracy below to "re-prioritize" such standards towards cost-control and "being good", (as in parent-child). This isn't necessarily a bad thing because this is what our daily work is and should be - a company that doesn't take care of it's costs will go out of business. But like bad weeds, such priorities cannot be permitted to crowd out high principle in aviation.

Under organizational cost priorities and those financial pressures which are continuously broadcast to employees, there is little threat to career if one keeps the "#1 priority" in mind, there being much reward in the form of atta-boys and banana-pellets for "effective" budgetary practises.

Every manager (but no shareholder, it seems), knows that "safety costs" - a lot, - and produces "nothing", (irony intended and the "if you think..." statement well-memorized!) in the sense that "safety isn't a profit center". Championing "expensive" safety programs can therefore be a career-ender (if indeed it is allowed to start) if the organization's bean-counters have higher priority.

These are factors at legacy and lo/co carriers alike. Put another way, such an attitude does not need "lo/co" to take seed and flourish - there is fertile ground everywhere and especially where a safety record is very good and is even bragged about. It is why I remain very circumspect when it comes to SMS.
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Old 17th Sep 2007, 07:31
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Asia's budget airlines safety record

Asian Budget carriers are fast becoming a cause for concern.The recent spate of accidents underlines the sad fact that there is something wrong with the business model.
While the US and Europe's low cost airlines have an excellent safety record the said cannot be said for the Far East.
The European Union earlier this year banned all 51 Indonesian airlines from flying into European airports. Thai low-cost carrier, Phuket Air, was also banned from flying to some European destinations in 2005.
The proliferation of new carriers in South East Asia has led to a pilot and engineer shortage.

So where are all these new pilots and engineers coming from?
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Old 17th Sep 2007, 11:29
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I generally agree with PJ2, although i have to point out, that in many LowCost carriers pilots get hired from anywhere, having different ideas of saftey standards. That wil have to be trained out of people. If there is an ab initio training program, as there is for many "older" airlines, apprentice pilots can be molded into the safety culture of an airline from the very beginning. That increases safety sustantially.

While the US and Europe's low cost airlines have an excellent safety record the said cannot be said for the Far East.
It is easy to have an excellent safety record, if the airline has existed only for a short time. All European low cost airlines are not older than maybe a few years. But looking at the structures of some of them raises concern.

These are:
- having to justify extra fuel to superiors
- having to write flightreports about go arounds
- low CRM training
- pressure to keep your job making descisions that cost money
- high hirarchy differences between CPT and FO (often caused by hiring military), causing copilots not to be asertive enough
- being fired for joining a union
- no non-punitive reporting system
- ...
Way too many accidents prove my point in this respect - simply take buisness aviation, where pressure is even higher, as is the accident rate...

What also matters for the safety record is the amount of sectors flown, that is: an airline having 100 aircraft compared to an aircraft having 10 aircraft doing 8 flights a day per a/c needs to have safety increased 10fold, to not encounter an accident over the same period of time.

I could go onandon,

Nic
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Old 17th Sep 2007, 11:42
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Well, surprised the heck out of me but I seem to have started a thread. My first post on this thread was cut from the Phuket crash thread by a mod.

So, with that in mind I might as well be midly controversial. There are good and bad pilots from all around the world but the 'bums on seats' attitudes of some of the Lo Cos in Asia is directly responsible for most of the incidents that they have had recently. Flying has always been about risk management and being prepared to stand up and be counted to make safe operational decisions. It seems to me (from my ivory tower) that several of the recent events have been caused by the inability to make a safe decision or pushing a bad situation and making it even worse. Lets face it, only 5% of accidents really are accidents. Most are either due to a horrific lack of operational expertise or more likely a chain of events involving several mistakes that lead to a decision. The decision is generally quite simple. This sucks, I've screwed it up or been screwed lets do something different.

They talk about risk shift in CRM and it is amazing how difficult some guys find it to be the first to divert! My experience is that if you do, your alternate is normally empty and you get in and out first. Once one guy has made the decision not to continue its amazing how it almost seems to give other guys permission to follow suit. Some guys will think I'm arrogant but really I'm not. I have the humility to recognise that I am not god's gift to aviation and don't have the ability to land in extreme conditions so would rather go somewhere else, have a cup of tea and comeback when its nice and easy.

Some guys counter that they are under operational pressure etc etc. Well most of the guys putting us under that pressure do not have either the training or understanding of the issues involved. Modern pilots get few chances to make worth while decisions and so had better be ready when one pops up. Ultimately we get paid the big bucks to fly the aircraft within its but more importantly our own limits and to make safe decisions. In Thailand the weather does change quickly but c'est la vie. I guarantee you that Cathay have more diversions every year than almost any other 'Chinese' carrier. And its not because they are 'bad' pilots or weenies. Food for thought.
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Old 17th Sep 2007, 11:44
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Phil,

Perhaps you should rephrase your comment that "Asian budget carriers are fast becoming a cause for concern" by adding the word "some" at the beginning.

We are all aware of the low standards that exist in Indonesia but please don't tar all LCCs with the same brush. I heard recently that the largest one of all which had six runway excursions that were publicly known about in one year, had only one safety report filed by crew in that time! Whether that reporting level is true or not I cannot tell, but I have no intention of ever sitting on one of their aircraft until I see that they can at least keep them on the runway with reasonable regularity.

However, I have travelled with both Jetstar and Tiger in Singapore and their operations appear to be well-run in a professional manner (by ex-pats?). As you say, in the US and Europe the LCCs have an excellent record - better than the legacy carriers in fact, as shown by the last safety census in Flight Intnl. The LCCs also have a much higher landings-to-flight-hours ratio than most legacy carriers, which statistically exposes them more. Easyjet and Ryanair between them will carry about 80 million passengers this year yet both have a clean record. Of course, an accident can happen at any time but an airline doesn't get to the size of those without an accident, purely on luck alone! They must be doing something right.

There may be some operational issues involved in this accident which hopefully will come out in the investigation. Unfortunately, it appears that both pilots were killed in the accident (RIP) so will be unable to give their version of events. In the meantime as PJ2 says there is nothing wrong in eliciting as much information as possible about the circumstances (weather, tech status etc) of this accident in the hope that it may warn pilots of the possible dangers they can face at any time.

Was the parent company, Orient Thai, the one that was banned from the EU or was it another Thai carrier?
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Old 17th Sep 2007, 11:58
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The South Korean Ministry of Construction and Transportation issued a warning in March 2006 to the international arm of One-Two-GO, called Orient Thai, and to two other low-fare carriers because of “frequent delays and substandard safety measures,” The Korea Times reported.

SID one google:

The ministry said that Orient Thai, which operates flights from Inchon, South Korea, to Bangkok and Phuket, had not updated its safety and operational regulation manuals and that fire extinguishers and oxygen tanks were not in working condition.
“We ordered the carriers to improve the detected items,” The Korea Times quoted an official as saying.
In October 2004, a Boeing 747-200 operated by Orient Thai came within 660 feet of the Tokyo Tower while making its final approach to Haneda Airport, a Japanese newspaper, The Mainichi Shimbun, reported.
The newspaper quoted Orient Thai as saying the plane’s captain had failed to give proper instructions to his crew on landing procedures at Haneda.
Does that answer you?
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Old 17th Sep 2007, 12:27
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SIDSTAR,

Just for accuracy. The Thai carrier banned by the EU was Phuket Air
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Old 17th Sep 2007, 12:42
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I have been informed by someone who runs a cargo airline that a Thai AOC isn't difficult to obtain. Combine that with beat up old aircaft, corruption, profit motive, lack of regulatory supervision, inadequate training, fear of "loss of face" that a go around or diversion would bring and wait for the accident.

Simple piece of advise, "Do not fly low cost in the third world, stick with national airlines and even then choose carefully." I fly with pilots who have worked in Indonesia and no one has a good thing to say about it.

I would fly low cost in Western Europe, North America, Australia/New Zealand, Japan and Singapore. There I would expect strict oversight from the regulator, the ability to maintain the aircraft properly and a safety first culture.

If you can't drink the tap water avoid their low cost airlines.

BTW Singapore has been classed as a developed country since 1988. Their Aviation Authority run the award winning Changi Airport. Definately first world standard.
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Old 17th Sep 2007, 13:34
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Metro Man,

There’s only one Thai cargo carrier that I recall with an AOC so it’s fairly obvious to whom you refer.

Hopefully kwaiyai will jump in here but you really shouldn’t accuse everyone within Thailand of ignoring safety standards.

I’m no way defending any operator that doesn’t conform to the highest standards but I like many others here do drink the tap water.

There are many people in the developing world trying to make a difference. LCC or 3rd world does not necessarily equate to poor standards. Of course there are carriers that I wouldn’t let Miss ZFT fly on and many are indeed within the area you refer to, but there are some p1ss poor operators within your ‘safe’ area too.
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Old 17th Sep 2007, 14:18
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Low cost AND third world is a dangerous combination.

Phuket Air managed to get themselves banned from the EU, how did the Thai authorities let things get so bad that someone else took action first against an airline they were supposed to supervise.

I wasn't refering to the Thai Cargo Airline, I was told a Thai or Indonesian AOC could be obtained "same day", person I'm thinking of registered elsewhere for greater credibility for his company.

Obviously a few less than perfect operators around in the first world, but they usually get jumped on hard before things get too bad.

I would fly Royal Thai, new aircraft, well resourced, being watched by the countries they fly to. Not on a Thai low cost though.
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Old 17th Sep 2007, 15:17
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If you can't drink the tap water avoid their low cost airlines.
Last I checked, you are advised not to drink tap water in the USA.

Please do not paint all 3rd world LCC with the same brush stroke.

Going through the records, a lot of "western airlines" in the "developed world" has many serious close calls too
What generally saved the day was a combination of good ATC and good infrastructures.
Both of which are not in healthy supply out here.
It would be interesting to see how well the "western airlines" would fare out here in the 3rd world.
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Old 17th Sep 2007, 15:53
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PH,

The 'western airlines' do fly in 'the third world'! No one has painted all the LCCs with the same brush strokes.

What generally saved the day was a combination of good ATC and good infrastructures
Does this mean ATC and infrastructure had something to do with this accident? I think not!
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Old 18th Sep 2007, 01:17
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Metro Man

I’m not disagreeing with you about TG being an excellent carrier but interesting your perception of new aircraft. Ignoring the newer types, their established fleet isn’t that new, just well maintained.

Their earliest 744 is now 17 years old, A330 is over 13 years, A306 is over 22 years and B734 is over 17 years.

(Apologises for misunderstanding you re the cargo carrier)
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Old 18th Sep 2007, 01:49
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I think it should certainly be pointed out that while this discussion is about LCCs one of the accidents involved Garuda a National, well established airline.

Begs the question - Should we be just questoning LCCs? Is the problem much more widespread?
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Old 18th Sep 2007, 04:10
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Modern fleet, best technical equipment, focus on good CRM, plenty of spare gas, first rate training, careful-about-costs-but-far-more about-safety, and so the list goes on.

Option 1: Check out the "safe" carriers in Asia - they assuredly exist, even among mainland China carriers with nary a prang to speak of over recent years depite huge aviation growth.
Option 2: Be prepared to spend more - can be a lot more
Option 3: Only use lo-co's who fly out of places where regulations are made to bite.
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Old 18th Sep 2007, 16:18
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Asia's budget airlines safety record

Dear Friends,

It seems that you are only attending to the symptoms. It is the regulators in a number of Asian countries that would need urgent help....
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Old 18th Sep 2007, 17:09
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It's rather obvious that customers, legacy carriers, governments and their associated medias here in Asia like the opportunity to jump on the bandwaggon and talk about safety and budget at the same take of breath.

This is unwise.

There is a much more stringent parallelity of culture and air safety. This safety avers culture in Asia (as in Africa, Russia, South America) can be found in budget and legacy carrier alike.

It's clearly a matter of how the airline and the air authority of the relevant countries are run. We here in Singapore have some very fine run LCC. I would recommend them any time in the same vain as other LCC in the US and Europe (well, Europe there are also black sheeps). As a guideline for passenger who are a little nervous and uncertain, please follow the recommendations I read today in a newspaper:

1. Don't look only at the price of your ticket.
2. Look who owns the airline.
3. Look at the safety record of the airline.

Dani
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Old 18th Sep 2007, 17:50
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Safety Record

The inherent problem with safety records is that they are a backward looking history. There are airlines that haven't crashed for a while that I wouldn't fly with because of what I have heard about their safety culture.

What is needed is a publicly available safety rating, based on an independent audit. Air travel is an international business, so any audits would have to be carried out by an international organization, but there aren't any willing or able to tackle this issue. ICAO would be the logical one, but they are mired down in bureaucracy and the conflicting interests of member states. IATA could try it, but they also seem susceptible to bias.

The end result is that buying an air ticket is rather like buying a used car or buying stocks: the buyer is on their own, and sometimes its a bad deal.
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Old 18th Sep 2007, 21:07
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SIDSTAR,
We are all aware of the low standards that exist in Indonesia but please don't tar all LCCs with the same brush.
And please don't tar all Indonesian carriers with the same brush too! It's unfair to the guys and operators that do care about safety... it's unfair to the guys who decided to sacrifice profits they could get had they yielded to their greed, and spent money on safety instead and has so far been rewarded in having no major mishaps! Heck, these guys self regulate better than the regulators!

Yet we get expats here who deliberately broke all procedures and safety measures (yes, they were JAR licensed aircrew) while they were here! Now would it be fair for me to tar their countrymen with the same brush?

By the way, they do end up on paved surface on a regular basis...

However, I do think that it's time everyone looks into the management's true opinion on safety? (I know one airline executive who said "safety is for my assets to be productive, to hell with lives!").

Metro Man,
You've been told wrong matey! Indonesian AOCs can take forever actually! If you know how I can obtain an AOC in a day, geez, tell me mate coz I want one! And my mates who's been churning their AOC application for the last 2 years despite having a bloody good safety plan may have been going to the wrong desk at the DGAC...
---

"Low Cost and third world" isn't a dangerous combination if it wasn't for one word that few would like to admit to... GREED (and slap another one... "EGO")

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