Effects of Airline Deregulation on Aviation Safety Term Paper

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Airline Deregulation on Aviation Safety

This paper looks at the deregulation and the impacts it has had on the aviation industry. It details the changes that have taken place since deregulation act became effective. The main focus of the paper is safety in the aviation industry whereby the various maintenance procedures have been discussed shading light on the importance of carrying out the right maintenance to guarantee safety of the aircraft personnel and the travelling public. Training of the personnel being the most important aspect in ensuring safety standards are met have also been widely looked into and discussed, detailing the need for qualified and competent crew. In conclusion the safety evaluation measures have also been stated and an analysis of how they are carried out across the globe has been widely discussed with safety being the main focus.

Introduction

The airline industry has witnessed a significant change over the years in the way its operations are being handled compared to the past where the governments took charge of almost all its key operations. For many years, the pressure to deregulate the airline industry was on the rise with a number of factors being considered. As a result, a number of factors lead to the need to deregulate the airline industry. There was the sky rocketing fuel costs which made flying to be costly and the harsh economic down turn that severely affected the business across the globe. Many players entered and exited the industry as it proved hard to break even and make profit. The need to deregulate was primarily geared to ease the cost of flying, allow the airlines to determine the routes and also allow flexibility and create room for competition from the new entrants. The brake through came about in the year 1978 when the Airline Deregulation Act was passed and signed into law by president Jimmy Carter. This led to the transformation of the industry whereby new carriers were allowed into the Industry, it also increased competition which led to the reduction of the air fares. Reduction in the air fares further triggered a significant growth in Air Travel as more passengers began to travel by air. Deregulation has led to innovativeness by the service providers, the introduction of the Frequent flyer Programs which targeted repeat customers, rewarding them with free tickets and other benefits to market the airlines and also the use of the computer generated systems which have allowed the players to regulate fees charged on various services being offered by the airlines. Through the use of Hub and Spoke system, several airlines have been able to link their passengers to other flights which have made it easier to reach certain destinations through the interconnections.

Deregulation therefore brought about many positive impacts in the airline industry, most importantly the reduction in the rate of accidents. However there might be a few cases of accidents, the industry has realized an improvement in the carriers where safety standards are given much attention. Though the airline industry was deregulated which meant the governments had no control of fares and services being offered, it did not delink the government from regulating and monitoring the safety standards. The responsibilities of Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) were phased out by the Act; hence the competitive market forces took effect in dictating the fares and service levels among the providers. The competitive forces of the market have led to the provision of high quality services being offered to the air travelers as well as fare and competitive airfares. However, there are indications that due to deregulation and the competitiveness, the profitability for certain airlines have significantly reduced which has raised a concern over issues of maintenance. The competitive pressures brought by deregulation may result into cost cutting measures and a reduction in the amounts spent on maintenance of the vessels increasing the number of risks as a result of the reduced profit margins (John W. Barnum, 2008).

Maintenance In-House

Maintenance is the most important measure that all the major airline companies have to put into consideration if the safety of its customers is to be guaranteed. Planes are very risky to fly without proper service and key technical personnel to respond in times of technical problems. It calls for swift measures since a small mishap may be catastrophic if timely actions are not put in place. Regular maintenance therefore ensures that all the components of the vessels are working as required and replacement of the worn out parts are done properly. Due to the nature of the work required, strict regulatory procedures have been set to ensure that safety standards are maintained for the aircrafts. The safety guidelines have been spelt out for some vessels whereby the manufacturers dictate the maintenance schedules after certain duration of time on key components. There are restrictions that govern maintenance, training and operation of the aircrafts. It is a highly regulated area with several airworthiness authorities around the world to regulate the procedures. It is the duty of the authorities to sign and release the aircrafts after the maintenance procedures have been conducted in accordance with the applicable worthiness requirements. There are various levels of maintenance procedures categorized as in-house namely; Phase maintenance, Through flight maintenance and Depot level maintenance.

For many companies, maintenance work is not their core business and they prefer to outsource for maintenance services from the best know companies whose core business is to provide the technical support and servicing. Many view it as accost cutting measure since it becomes costly to maintain the workforce while for others it is essential to keep an in-house maintenance team to carry out the work which can as well be used as an additional source of revenue for the company when hired out to other companies. Big companies such as British Airways and Delta Airlines have kept their in-house maintenance departments to respond to their needs as well as to generate income to the companies.

Phase Maintenance

Phase maintenance is a procedure that ensures that an aircraft is fit and given the go ahead to be operated again. The aircrafts are being used for various purposes, apart from the commercial and business or private purposes; they are also being used to ensure that criminal activities are kept at bay to ensure that the populations are kept safe. This is a tedious job that needs all the parts of an aircraft to work properly not to endanger the lives of those operating them and the public. Phase maintenance therefore is a very essential procedure that ensures that the vessels are regularly checked and records kept. The aircrafts are diagnosed for the need to change various components and a list of the required parts drawn. Sometimes a complete overhaul is required to be performed which is a very strenuous exercise and can take longer hours of work to accomplish. There are other requirements that may need to be performed by the technical inspectors in order to identify other faults that may not have been picked by the owning unit before the aircraft is set for the maintenance work.

Every step during maintenance is recorded and accounted for, a procedure that can take up to two weeks to be completed before the aircraft is taken out. The maintenance team has to perform a myriad of tasks to ensure that the outcome is satisfying and the condition of the plane and safety is guaranteed. Upon completion the phase team usually run a series of tests ensuring there are no cracks or other faults, exchange the filters and plugs to ensure transmission is perfect. However there might be some shortcomings that may delay the procedure which involves the inability to find certain components readily available that might take more time (Sgt. Alun Thomas, 2009).

Through Flight Maintenance

The airplanes do have on board as part of the crew, the technical support and engineers who act when the planes are faced with technical issues. They also have the knowledge on the usage of the digital technical data. There are centers which are equipped with top class engineers who respond on a timely manner and help the crew with the instructions for trouble shooting or repairs. The crews are highly innovative and armed with high level technological expertise and are in operation round the clock to provide the services. Through the enhanced support, the airlines and the aircrafts are linked to the suppliers and a solution is reached to fix the problem in a timely manner where those on board can carry out the repair and continue with the flight or respond to the advice and recommendations of the through flight maintenance team (Airbus, 2012).

Depot Level Maintenance

The definition of depot level maintenance has changed over the years with new items being included into the new definition scarping off some of the old rules governing maintenance. The new definition tends to incorporate procedures that were in the past not being done as part of depot level maintenance and…

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