Aircraft safety is an important consideration for anyone who flies. Even though cars are much more dangerous than aircraft, planes inspire more fear than cars by their very nature as flying machines and because they remove control of the craft from the passengers. Regulatory bureaus such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) take aircraft safety just as seriously as passengers do. This agency is tasked with creating and enforcing all regulations that affect aircraft safety. One way to pay attention is that the plane you are riding in is by looking at how fleet engineers are.
No other industry is as strictly regulated as the aircraft industry. Every company in the industry, from the giant manufacturers to the smallest parts suppliers, must meet strict standards. Every part created for every aircraft must meet strict tolerance limits; if it does not, it must be discarded and cannot be used. These regulations apply to everything that goes on the craft, from engines to bolts to the cabin seats. The FAA cannot possibly monitor every company that manufactures aircraft parts, so many FAA-approved third party agencies have arisen whose sole purpose is to certify companies as being compliant. A safe aircraft is a plane with good aircraft maintenance.
These agencies closely monitor every company they certify and make certain that all parts and components the company produces are up to standards. It is not only parts suppliers that are held to such high standards. The assembly of aircraft is also a heavily regulated and monitored endeavor. Either the FAA or the third-party certifying agency must oversee the assembly of each aircraft to be certain that is done properly and meets the regulatory requirements. Once an aircraft has been assembled, it must pass certain tests before it can be put into service. These tests include several “shakeout flights” which are designed to determine whether or not the aircraft operates properly and is safe. One type of safe aircraft is 787 FMS.
Only a skeleton crew is onboard during these flights. New models must be put through an extensive series of tests that simulate different flying conditions to be certain that the aircraft will not shake apart. This process may take more than a year. Subsequent production runs of the same model will be subjected to less strenuous testing but will still have the shakeout flights conducted. Aircraft safety regulations do not stop when the plane enters service. If anything, they become even stricter. All aircraft must adhere to a strict schedule of inspections and maintenance.
An airline’s planes can be grounded if they deviate from this schedule. The busiest planes might be inspected at least once a day; aircraft that are not flown as often may be inspected every few days or once a week. If an aircraft fails its inspection, it is grounded immediately until repairs can be conducted. Minor maintenance is conducted every few days or at least twice a month. Major maintenance is conducted as needed or at least once every couple of months. The safety regulations for aircraft even extend to the crew.
There are regulations regarding how many crewmembers must be aboard, how much experience they must have, how long they can fly without a break and even how much sleep they must have before getting into the cockpit. Many people worry about aircraft safety, but flying is truly one of the safest activities in the world. Aircraft safety regulations ensure that accidents are kept to a minimum and that all planes are in working order.