Safety First? Not Necessarily So, Say Airline Employees

 - April 24, 2009, 9:27 AM

Penny-pinching by airlines is raising the anxiety among their employees over a perceived erosion of safety standards, according to a new survey by UK-based aviation consultancy Ascend. The second annual survey gathered input from around 200 aviation industry professionals from 41 countries, who gave their views anonymously. The respondents ranked “management experience and culture” as the greatest threat to safety among aircraft operators, closely followed by “a shortage of experienced personnel,” “airline financial health,” “fatigue and difficult work practices” and “complacency.”

“Industry cutbacks are causing concerns. All aviation personnel are aware that they are working harder for less money, and they link this with increased risks to safety,” said Ascend safety director Paul Hayes. “However, these views need to be balanced with the fact that [according to survey respondents] safety is expected to continue improving over the next five years thanks to better technology and management accountability for safety. It follows that respondents overwhelmingly placed responsibility for continued improvement with management.”

Respondents accused airline management of “irresponsibly” viewing safety as an additional cost and endorsed the view that “cost is the problem in all areas.” More details of the Ascend safety survey, which it conducted during March, are available at

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