The Effects Of Deregulation On Aviation Safety

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The Effects Of Deregulation On Aviation Safety

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Summary

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Deregulation of commercial transport has been in effect for over thirty years in many countries across the world. Airline sector deregulation began in the year 1978 with the United States of America. It has been thought that the recent rash of near misses, blown jet engines, and airliner crashes has heightened fears that deterioration of airline safety has risen as a result of airline deregulation. However, this subject has amassed debates of both the support side and opposite side. Even under these arguments, it is clear that deregulation on aviation safety has had serious negative effects affecting the industry. There are various effects considered in understanding the implication of aviation safety deregulation. These effects are listed throughout the essay and research work done. Air fatalities and near misses is one effect that has brought about mixed reactions of the effects it has brought in regard to safety in the aviation industry. Another effect is the enhanced air safety record. This effect paints the picture that though more air travel has risen; opportunities of plane crashes and safety incidents have also risen. An additional factor to consider is the safety of new entrants. New entrants into the industry in the era of deregulation came with profit maximization at the expense of safety measures. Lastly another effect in regard to effects of aviation safety after deregulation is media focus. Media focus paints the actual picture of any incident occurring over safety maters in aviation. This makes its clear for the members of the public to comprehend the magnitude of effects. Generally, aviation safety after deregulation era has deteriorated and amicable procedures should be adopted to improve aviation safety procedures in the era of deregulation.

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The Effects of Deregulation on Aviation Safety

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Introduction

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Over the past thirty years, deregulation of commercial transport has been initiated in many countries across the world. The deregulation wave began with United States of America Deregulation of the airline sector in the year 1978. This was meant to be effective as from January 1979. Some countries that have successfully deregulated commercial transport include the Great Britain, United States, New Zealand and some other European countries (Golich, 2008). Following the recent rash of near misses, blown jet engines, and airliner crashes has heightened fears that deterioration of airline safety has risen as a result of airline deregulation. The general public and policy makes are being convinced that national airline systems are not working now despite their effective performance under economic regulation era (McKenzie, n.d).

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Critics argue that airliners should be reregulated to guard the public from ill-centered motives of profit maximization by investors. Proponents of deregulation have reacted to these charges making it clear that safety has not been impaired be policies providing deregulation. They have gone further to site evidence that on the contrary to made propositions, deregulation has brought about steady decline in death rate as a result of airline safety (McKenzie, n.d). Research proves the fact that death rate as a result of airline deregulation has fallen following 1978 deregulation policy. However, there has been a downward trend of death rate since early days of commercial aviation (Elvik, 2006). The underlying question remains: Has airliner deregulation substantially affected the downward trend in regards to airline death rate? This essay will focus in answering the question citing potential effects of deregulation in the commercial aviation and airline safety.

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Deregulation of commercial aircraft transport: What it is and what it is not

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Deregulation of a business may be described as the general removal of underlying formal regulations deterring entry to the business, allowing the freedom of market forces of demand and supply. In a regulated environment, entrant of new firms in the industry is allowed only after applying a public regulatory agency to be allowed a permission to operate. Regulated business enterprises are also majorly characterized by price controls. The main essence of airline transport deregulation is to enforce competition (Elvik, 2006). At the event the industry is defined by perfect competition then the consumers stand to enjoy maximum benefits. A deregulated airline transport normally continues to bare various regulations, including the following: the anti-trust laws, exhibiting prohibition of price collusion threatening acts to monopolize the industry; safety standards for aircraft and their actual maintenance; and safety regulations regarding operation of the traffic such as air traffic control, minimum possible spacing between aircraft (Elvik, 2006). In this background let us discuss effects of deregulation of airlines on safety as follows:

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Air fatalities and near misses

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Throughout the current period where there have been records of rapid expansion in air travel, airline fatalities numbers has had an upward trend. The death toll as a result of airliner crashes ranged from a high of 460 during 1974 to a low of 7 during 1986 (Golich, 2008). Special cases in the early days of deregulation of large plane crashes accounted for some death fears but not severe as during deregulation. Good examples were the 1979 Chicago large plane crash and the 1982 New Orleans plane crash. On average, the total number recorded over airliner fatalities fell sharply per billion passenger-miles (McKenzie, n.d). The actual numbers ranged from 1.19 between the periods of 1972 to 1978 to an average of 0.48 between the periods of 1979 to 1986. Despite the fact that the rate of air fatality were substantially improving, the underlying situation with near misses was a mixed scenario. Restraining from adjusting the air travel volume, the number of recorded near misses increased from 231 during 1972 to approximately 840 during 1986 (Moses & Savage, 2005).

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Despite the exception of a dramatic dip between 1981 and 1982, the total number of near misses substantially increased steadily as the total number of passenger-miles flown was increasing. The total number recorded over near misses per billion passenger-miles, rose sharply between the periods of 1972 to 1978. The total number fell dramatically during the early 1980s only to portray a rising trend approaching mid-1980s. The average rate of near misses was recorded as two per billion passenger-miles in the period between 1972 and 1986 (Gesell & Farris, 2002). This was a picture painted by the early days of deregulation of aviation sector in respect to airline safety. It is worth noting that data related to near misses stand highly sensitive to any reporting system, as Federal Aviation Administration officials ended up acknowledging. For instance, between the periods of 1968 and 1971, airlines involved in instances of near misses were accorded immunity from punitive action at the event they were reported to Federal Aviation Administration (Elvik, 2006).

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Over this period, the number reported as a result of near misses averaged 1620 per year. During 1972, after the provisions of immunity expired, the total number recorded as a result of near misses fell to approximately 231 cases. It is assumed that the substantial drop in the total number of available air-traffic controllers after lying off strikers may have accounted for the unusual decline in recorded near misses between 1981 and 1982 (Moses & Savage, 2005). However, information in regard to near misses incidence is regarded very sensitive to the congressional and media attention. As result of airline deregulation, air fatalities recorded a downward trend substantially whereas the rate of near misses incidences portrayed a rising trend. This is one effect with a direct implication on airline safety and cannot be assumed under all circumstances (McKenzie, n.d).

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The enhanced air safety record

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It is evident that airline deregulation has come with one overwhelming effect: it has significantly enhanced and increased air travel. In the year 1988 alone, air travel through the major airlines stood at 41 percent. This can be well as expressed as approximately 100 billion revenue passenger miles way above the value predicted through the trend established in periods before deregulation, say 1955 to 1978 (McKenzie, n.d). However, despite this underlying dramatic increase in the volume, improvements in air safety appear to be unaffected the whole process of airline deregulation. Despite all this, there are theoretical arguments facing both sides of paramount airline safety equation. On one side of the argument, the safety of air travel may have been beefed up since deregulation because airlines have brought on stage safer aircraft especially the jet kind. In addition to that, procedures regarding maintenance have relatively advanced withy increased experience in the industry. Nonetheless, safety was never deregulated in the first place (Elvik, 2006).

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In actual sense, it is only the processes and operations of CAB which were discontinued. The Federal Aviation Administration on its part has continued to exist and operate. This existed despite the fact that nearly 10000 air traffic controllers who participated in strike during the year 1981 were all fired; majorly throughout 1980s there were relatively fewer controllers to handle and manage the rapidly growing volume of air traffic (Elvik, 2006). On the other hand, vivid arguments undermine the fear that deregulation could relatively deteriorate safety of air travel. Making the assumption that airlines upheld greater safety standards than the provisions made by Federal Aviation Administration required when airlines were under CAB regulation, then it is sound to think that fare competition after deregulation era could have made airlines to concede some of their safety margin. The truth of the matter is deregulated airlines fly higher number of planes more fully packed with pilots who out of increased demand, bare less overall cockpit experience (McKenzie, n.d).

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Due to exceeding pressure from price competition forces, some airlines have made attempts to impose controls over costs by continued operation of older planes. Other airlines in the industry might respond market competition by bending safety procedures. The outcome that emanate from this is that airlines enjoy reduced operational costs and thus able to lower flight fares to stand the competition. Under the environment of deregulated skies, increased number of airplanes is a direct translation of increased opportunities of accident incidents. This is likely to derive a situation of more fatalities and accidents (Moses & Savage, 2005).

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The safety of new entrants

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In understanding safety underlying issue, it worth discussing death risk per flight, of all-jet airlines before and after deregulation era in the year 1978. Researchers concluded that due to the higher-than-normal number of reported incidents of accidents by new entrants in the nineteen, deregulation process reduced the overall U.S. air travel safety. Researchers’ claim is that, deregulation has essentially done nothing to increase safety procedures amongst established carriers in essence (Elvik, 2006). The official near misses count does not actually depict the actual situation since they are inherently imprecise and flawed measure. It bases its arguments on the judgment of crew or pilots, is greatly correlated with either actual media attention or midair collisions to near misses. It is assumed that this sis related to the underlying threat of penalties to pilots mentioned in incidences of near miss reports. This also factors count of near misses facing all forms of air transportation (Elvik, 2006).

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Researchers argued that, had deregulation never initiated, the overall death risk measure would have remained roughly 1 in 11.8 million air travel passengers. This is simply to imply that, risk would have solely been determined by the rate of accident of the established airline (Gesell & Farris, 2002). By considering a case where death toll risk of thirty-seven airlines considered stood at 1 in 7.4 million spread over the period of deregulation. It therefore follows that it is sound to assume that deregulation raised by approximately 60 percent the actual average risk per flight for the overall domestic airline travel. Many individuals and studies stand to argue that accidents and fatalities are often the product of crew and pilot experience (McKenzie, n.d). Research indicates that overall flight experience has significant learning effect. It is held that increase in underlying airline experience by about one billion miles has a direct implication of reduction of the accident rate by about 14.1 percent. Despite this finding is based on study of existing airlines before deregulation in 1978, this explanation can greatly help understand the above-average accident rate for new entrants in the airline transport after 1978 (Moses & Savage, 2005).

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Generally, an assumption is made that due to the fact that deregulation permits route and price competition, profits in regard to the industry and hence the safety has suffered in return. However, airline competition was not entirely suppressed before imposition of deregulation policies, only the routes and process were controlled. We cannot underpin entirely the possibility that deregulation is likely to have substantially substituted price competition for overall safety competition. It is evident that in the era of deregulation, safety might have been marginally sacrificed to deliver improved movies and meals (Elvik, 2006). With deregulation, higher efficiencies could have derived less emphasis on the actual visible forms of competitive age other than price competition and over emphasis on less visible safety competition forms. Several researchers established that substantial market penalties are imposed over accident and lapse of safety standards set by airlines. This overall effect is said to have been enhanced over environments of deregulation. It remains an open ended question whether airline deregulation process marginally decreased or reduced the amount of total resources devoted to airline safety procedures by relevant safety agencies or even by airlines themselves (Moses & Savage, 2005).

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Media Focus

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The continued persistence of public complaints over safety procedures in aviation can also be partly explained through the old adage. The old adage made the general proposition that a picture is worth a thousand words in meaning and explanation. The media has continued replayed television footages of fiery plane crashes. They have been at the fore front in giving descriptions regarding plane cleanup efforts. The truth of the matter is that victim counts often bare more effect as compared to several million words over a plane crash tragedy (McKenzie, n.d). This is because reports are compiled in difficult to comprehend formats of statistical reports in regard to the impacts of aviation deregulation. A perfect case on point is the highlight of the December 1990 attention on the collision of the two Northwest jets on a runway. This happened in Detroit and about eight people died over the incident and approximately twenty others sustained serious injuries. The next morning Detroit News, banner headlines were set bold and large enough to draw attention (Elvik, 2006).

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In general, almost every paper across the country bore the pictures of the severe burned-outs DC-9. The dailies also heavily recounted leading story of the pilot, who have just been reinstated into the workplace after five-year absence due to medical leave. In this incidence, he had become lost in the dense fog that had covered the entire runway leading to the near miss. This was clear that many people reading the story line posed their thought over larger numbers of people killed in Michigan roads. This recurred itself in every weekend through 1990 than the actual number succumbed on the Detroit runway on such fateful day (Golich, 2008). Media focus makes readers generate a mindset and picture of an incidence in an intense way. However, they have their part to play in informing about safety incidents in airline transport. Since deregulation, more reported safety incidents have been recorded and media has helped to inform the public about them. Media focus highlight every incident as thus paint the actual picture of the underlying situation regarding safety in aviation after deregulation procedures (Elvik, 2006).

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The general improvements of safety over air travel has not been slowed and paralyzed by the deregulation of air fares and routes. The underlying problem that is worth mentioning is actually caused ordinarily by the governments’ failure to offer deregulation over the entire system of air transport. This includes even the system of the air traffic control. The media focus has been on the lime light painting the actual picture the situation revolving around airline safety. Although, authorities make efforts of curbing the spread of information regarding airline safety, media focus has greatly contributed to inform members of the public (McKenzie, n.d).

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Conclusion

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In conclusion, airline safety after deregulation approximately over thirty years ago has deteriorated. Airlines have majored in other forms of competition to survive the market at the expense of passenger safety. Resources have been drifted to address other forms of none-price competition underpinning safety. Despite the fact that deregulation has brought with it coopers benefits to airlines, safety procedures are paramount and should not be shortchanged. Reinstatement of safety procedures regulation should be imposed to control air traffic safety. This essay has been focusing on citing potential effects of deregulation in the commercial aviation and airline safety.

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References

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Elvik, R. (2006).Deregulation and transport safety: A synthesis of evidence from evaluation studies. Institute of Transport Economics.

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Gesell, L. E. & Farris, M. T. (2002). Airline deregulation: an evaluation of goals and objectives. Transportation Law Journal, 21, 105-127.

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Golich, V. (2008). Airline deregulation: economic boom or safety bust? Transportation Quarterly, 42, 159-179.

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McKenzie, R., B. (n.d). Making Sense of the Airline Safety Debate. Regulation. 76-84.

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Moses, L., N. & Savage, I. (2005). Aviation deregulation and safety: Theory and evidence. Journal of transport economic and policy. 171-187.

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