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AirAsia plane crash: The flight path is not clear

comment Updated: Dec 30, 2014 23:25 IST
Hindustan Times
AirAsia flight QZ 8501

The crash of an AirAsia plane en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore on Sunday is yet another tragedy in one of the worst years in civil aviation for almost a decade, even though experts of the International Civil Aviation Organisation say the industry's safety record is improving.

To prevent incidents like this, aviation experts have suggested enhancing the flight tracking system installed in the aircraft. This will help locate the aircraft even if it disappears from the radar system.

Another suggestion is reviewing the criteria for flight corridors in war zones to ensure that civilian aircraft are not targeted by rebels, as happened in Ukraine with a Malaysian Airlines jetliner.

Training for pilots and other crew members should be more stringent and systemic reviews of their skills should be done. Finally, there is the need for greater global collaboration and this should be under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Sunday's accident brings to mind the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines MH370 in March this year. Analyses by satellite companies and others have arrived at the conclusion that the Malaysian Airlines plane in all likelihood ran out of fuel and went down into the ocean. A question that is confounding those conducting the search operations is whether anyone was at the controls when the plane went off the radar.

The AirAsia plane crash makes the year 2014 the worst for civil aviation since 2005, when more than 1,000 people were killed in 24 accidents while the number of such mishaps this year so far is eight, including the one on Sunday. More than 750 people have died in seven fatal accidents this year.

The International Air Transport Association, which is a representative body of about 250 airlines, has said 2014 has been safe if reckoned on the volume of traffic. In 2013, 3% of the accidents were caused because of control loss, but those accounted for 60% of the number of deaths.