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A journalist with 13 years of experience on trade publications covering construction, local government, property, pubs, and transport.
January 3, 2018

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Transport safety

Trump claims credit for aviation safety

Experts have ridiculed the president of the United States, Donald Trump, for his claim that his policies have impacted aviation safety.

The figures, which came from the Aviation Safety Network at the beginning of January, show 2017 airliner accident statistics with an extremely low total of 10 fatal airliner accidents, resulting in 44 fatalities across the globe.

The year 2017 turned out to be the safest year ever for commercial aviation, Aviation Safety Network (ASN) data revealed – and with zero deaths in the US.

In 2016, the ASN recorded 16 accidents and 303 lives lost worldwide.

Yesterday Trump tweeted:

But the comment was challenged by industry experts and commentators.

‘No evidence’

The Atlantic pointed out that the overall figures were worldwide, not just the US – and even when specifically looking at the US aviation record, it had been very safe for years.

Staff writer, David Graham, wrote: “It’s hard to find any evidence to back the president’s assertion that he has “been very strict on Commercial Aviation. In fact, it’s hard to find any evidence that Trump has affected aviation at all.

“If anything, Trump has promised to loosen regulations on aviation. Meeting with airlines executives in February 2017, Trump complained of a “regulatory morass that’s a disaster” and said he’d loosen “burdensome regulations.”

Graham points out that in June 2017, Trump proposed privatising air traffic control, and also in September – as part of Trump’s red tape cutting policy – a panel recommended that the FAA either scaled back or got rid of entirely a number of safety rules.

In June, the president proposed privatizing air-traffic control, though that idea was more related to moving jobs off the federal payroll than safety concerns.”

Fact checking

In its ‘fact-check’ article, NBC news spoke to former US airline captain and industry consultant John Cox, who said:

“Airline safety in 2017 was the best that it has ever been. That is an ongoing trend that we have seen over the last 25 or 30 years, and it’s due to the efforts of literally thousands of people in manufacturing, operators, pilots, flight attendants, dispatchers, mechanics, regulators, and the safety organizations. For one individual to try and take credit for it is not an accurate portrayal of what it took to accomplish it.”

Reuters spoke to Aviation Safety Network president, Harro Ranter, who said: ”It’s impossible to link the worldwide level of safety directly to recent U.S. policy changes.

“U.S. efforts have been instrumental to get to where we are today, but it takes years for policy changes to reach effect, and only in conjunction with other efforts by the aviation industry.

White House statement

The White House went on to release a statement supporting Trump’s tweet. It referred to the Homeland Security Department’s enhanced security measures.

This occurred in March 2017, when restrictions were placed to address the threat of explosives by stopping the use of laptops on nine Middle Eastern airlines. This was lifted in July when the additional security protocols were put in place.

The statement said: “President Trump has raised the bar for our nation’s aviation safety and security. Last year, the President announced his initiative to modernize Air Traffic Control and under his leadership, the Department of Homeland Security released enhanced security measures to ensure safer commercial air travel.”

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