AirAsia Flight QZ8501 and Air Travel Disasters For 2014

If you travel for business or leisure, you need to read this air travel safety review. For those that manage travel or involved within the travel industry, our review will assist you to advise and guide travellers in the wake of a series of air travel catastrophes. By the end of this review, you will have a clear, informed start point to educate and manage yourself/others when it comes to air travel safety in 2015.

The most recent air travel disaster involving AirAsia Flight QZ8501 is the latest in a series of aircraft crashes throughout 2014. Despite last year being touted as one of the safest years in aviation history, 2014 has seen 7 notable, disastrous crashes resulting in significant loss of life.

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The events surrounding the total disappearance of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 are still unknown at this stage, and will take months before the pieces are put together, if at all. Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 has shown us all that it is not a simple, straightforward or guaranteed process when it comes to a missing aircraft.

Recent events have contributed to providers and management being a little more ‘prepared’ for such incidents, and management a little more capable each time. Although this is certainly not universal nor guaranteed. Emergency call centres, response management teams, etc have all been established for AirAsia Flight QZ8501. It is important to remember though, that this is a “low cost carrier” as referred to by the aviation industry, meaning the operate with low overheads and less ‘management’ or costs when compared to other airlines. So some of the provisions are very last minute and untested. AirAsia cancelled a pre-scheduled, popular flight from Melbourne to Bali on Boxing Day, informing travellers by SMS. So there are also cultural factors to consider too. Indonesia’s aviation safety rating and maritime response capabilities are not rated within the top echelons on the international scale either. Australia has jumped at the opportunity to assist, but they have been unsuccessful in locating the last aircraft they assured they could find also.

Experts and commentators abound at this time, as they have in recent months. The question we should all be asking, where were they in preventing these incidents or is the industry/providers listening to these inputs? Many are just aimed at prolonging the news cycle or getting more air time, so the volume and commentary should not be confused with the magnitude and complexity of the issue either.

Aircraft can still disappear in 2014. Emergency services and experts still can’t locate them once they disappear and an entire aircraft with passengers can cause untold heartache to loved ones and family when their fate and the circumstances around their demise is unsolved. This does not mean air travel as a whole has become more dangerous.

Before any individual, travel manager or business decides on altering or reviewing their air travel choices, they need to consider the facts, evidence and overall inputs as part of methodical hazard identification process, with specific control measures to manage or mitigate risk. There are far more flights, travellers, routes and ‘safe journeys’ in 2014 than the year before and significantly more than 10 years ago. Don’t forget that. While there are questionable and outright dangerous pilots, aircraft, routes and environmental conditions, there is no one standard for all and results will not surprisingly vary based on these key elements. This means that an incident in one location, with a specific pilot, aircraft, weather, etc doesn’t mean the whole industry or world is not at risk. Most airline safety ratings are totally useless. They look at economic factors, profitability, service standards, etc in order to create more of a “good job” index than a real safety rating result. Don’t be mislead by these false data points either. If you follow a consistent, relevant travel safety review and hazard identification process, you will still typically find that air travel is still comparably “safe”, but not totally devoid of risk. While there are a few control and risk management elements you can apply, for the most part you are still in the hands of the airline, pilot, aircraft, environmental factors and any higher beliefs you may have. You can’t impose control measures on them all.

A question we have always asked ourselves and that of clients, is saving $50 for a flight the only factor in your decision making process? This is not to say that cheap is unsafe, but delay, loss, opportune cost, etc are certainly increased with “cheaper” when referring to air travel. More and more businesses and travel managers will be both accountable for this choice, and will need to review the practicalities of such decision processes compared with legal and safety obligations for travellers.

If you travel for business or leisure, you need to understand this air travel safety review. For those that manage travel or involved within the travel industry, you won’t be predisposed to snap decisions but more evidence based travel management and planning. You should now have a clear, informed start point to educate and manage yourself/others when it comes to air travel safety in 2015.

Our sympathies and respect to the families and friends of those suspected lost on AirAsia Flight QZ8501, and all those souls lost in 2014 to air travel disasters.


Travel Safety Experts
Travel Safety Experts

Travel health, safety, security and risk management experts