Monday, April 14, 2008

Risk Analysis Of More FAA Airworthiness Directives

Impact Of FAA Airworthiness Directives
FAA recently came out with a slew of Airworthiness Directive (AD), a formal notice to airliners on identified safety issues. Of the recent FAA released ADs, I have complied a list of the 19 most serious ADs. These 19 ADs affect most airlines as they are issued on B737 series, B757 series, B767 series, and A300-340 series airplanes (six new ADs for the Boeing 737 series airplanes, five new ADs for the Airbus 330 and 340 series airplanes, three new ADs for the Boeing 757 series airplanes, and two new ADs for the Boeing 767 series airplanes). These airplanes are flown by most major airlines and, in many cases, make up the bulk of their fleet (see Airplane Type chart, below, for details).

Moreover, airline companies are now under added pressure to comply with all these ADs. This pressure comes from the FAA, which seemed to have woken up from its regulatory stupor. As the FAA continues auditing airliners’ maintenance records and physically re-inspecting the airplanes, airliners have no other option but to cancel flights or modify their routing so they can conduct proper inspections and maintenances.

Here is the compilation of the 19 ADs (for the hyperlink to the FAA ADs, click here:

Risks Of The FAA ADs To Consumers
These new airworthiness directives will have an immediate and continued effect on the airline companies as airliners now know that the FAA means business. Previously complacent airline companies will now take more proactive stance and pull airplanes out of service at regular intervals to comply with the FAA ADs. However, since the airliners are already flying each airplanes at nearly full capacity, any reduction in the number of airplanes available for flight will result in delays and cancellations. With the summer months coming up, the potential for more severe delays and flight cancellations will be the norm for awhile:

  • Increased risk of flight delays and/or cancellations from airplanes being pulled from service for required inspections and maintenances
  • Increased risk of flight delays and/or cancellations resulting from re-routing of airplanes (from less profitable routes) due to affected airplanes being out of service longer than expected to meet FAA AD requirements
  • Increased risk of missed flight connections resulting from flight delays and cancellations
  • Increased risk of overbooked flights resulting from airliners flying less flights or combining flights
Preventive Actions To Minimize The Risks
  • Check with your airline often and also check with travel websites, such as FAA Flight Delay Center, FlyteComm, FlightAware, FlightStat, Travelocity Travel Info Center, for latest flight delays and updates
  • Opt for Travel Insurance, which would cover your cancellations; some even cover hotels and meals, if there are delays
  • Plan for alternative mode of transportation: take a train or drive, if possible
  • Plan alternative vacation, one that does not require flying
  • Know your flight route and plane configuration flown on the route. Each airline has route schedule, which includes the type of plane flown on each leg of the route.
Finally, here is an alphabetical list of major airlines and the types of airplanes flown by each carrier that I complied from Wikipedia. You can click on each carrier’s name to obtain more detailed information on the airplane types. The color scheme: Yellow, if the affected airplanes make up more than 60% of the airline’s total fleet. Orange, if the affected airplanes make up 80% or more of the airline’s total fleet. (For the hyperlink to the carriers listed, click here):

May your travels be safe and timely

Ed Kim

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