Blaming authorities after every such disaster is easy, but when the Malaysian airlines, which has a spot-free safety record, metes with this, there is some serious thinking to be done.
Europe versus Asia
It is the need of the time that we started comparing the aviation infrastructure with Europe, which is considered to be the reason behind the demand for an aviation industry in the East too.
Commercial aviation's growth initially came from the demand in North America and Europe. Withthe introduction of wide-body jets and imporvement in safety standards, flying became easier, safer and cheaper. No wonder that the rest of the world wanted to partake in the fray too.
When the rest of the world progressed, Asia had reasons to lag behind infrastructurally, especially when the geographical positioning of most of the countries did not allow them to have a proper airstrip.
1.Airline protocol:It is not less known how inefficiently we have been confronting air mishaps. Unlike the West or Europe, Asia's crisis management has undergone serious speculations, even in the case of the most experienced and safe air freights like Malaysian Airlines.
While the protocols for dealing with mid flight crashes in Europe and North America are very clear, it is still cumbersome and cluttered in Asia. There is always a clear line of authority in Europe where information is released only when it is confirmed, unlike what happened in the case of MH 370 where security forces have been seeing talking in media and later taking back what they said, uncertain where the investigation is heading to.
In fact, this throws a poor light on the airline culture that is influenced by social and political issues. In a way, we are more emotional than being practical.
2. Internal conflicts: The industry is ridden with internal conflicts, at least that is what the recent mishaps shows. The military air traffic radar and the civilian one is incoherent in finding the last readings of the plane. Recent reports show that the aircraft continued to transmit beeps 5 hours after it disappeared from the civil radar.
Digging the reasons behind these incoherences may throw up further questions, which may not have satisfactory answers. But, we have to consider the role of the military radar here, which is primarily required to oversee shipping because of piracy and smuggling and military and commercial flights.
On the other hand, speculations are rife that the military does not wish to bare its inefficiencies in radar surveillance.
3. Global Market: Interestingly, the global market in Boeing and Airbus manufacturing is one of the major influencers on the Asian aviation market.
Asia being an emerging market for budget airliners, Airbus and Boeing are pumping as many single-aisle aircrafts (especially Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320, accounting to 40 of each of the models per month) into the Asian market. On top of this, China is building new airports and expanding the old ones at a pace that is impossible in the West, increasing the demand for new airlines. With the increase in air fleet, the pressure on the air traffic systems increase, rendering them paralysed in some cases.
4. Lack of Pilots and Staff: Evidently there is a lack of experienced staff members, especially pilots who could cater to the increasing fleet. Last year's , Lion Airline accident is a case in point when an inexperienced pilot landed short of the runway in Bali and plunged into the sea.
5. Geography and Economy: These are interdependent factors in countries like Indonesia. Its geographical location does not allow developed road or railway connections. Hence, it has to bank on cheap domestic airlines that can also change its culture and economy.
In such cases, safety standards are secondary; no wonder that close to 50 Indonesian airlines have been banned from entering Europe. Philippines too faces such poor safety standards and a similar fate in the European air.
Exceptions are there: Singapore and Japan form some of the best aviation industries in the worl, with their safety and aviation traffic control standards at par with the best and the biggest in Europe. But their fleet too has to fly over countries in Asia that have a sloppy administration.
Six days into the rescue mission of the missing airplane, it is perhaps high time to learn a lesson!