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Germanwings tragedy raises questions on Lufthansa’s impeccable safety record

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

It is most traumatic for the families who have lost their loved ones in the recent crash in the French Apes. But it is very difficult to comprehend that how a large European passenger jet, at cruising level on a routine flight across the safest skies in the world, would crash.

A lot of questions still remain unanswered by the investigators from Airbus in Toulouse and Germanwings’ parent airline Lufthansa, like: how did a tragedy like this happen in the 21st century?

European airlines – both traditional carriers such as Lufthansa, Air France or British Airways, and no-frills operators such as EasyJet or Ryanair – are never low on safety. Rigorous safety standards are imposed and are checked regularly keeping in mind safety of its passengers. Germanwings has exactly the same high standards as its parent, Lufthansa, whose safety record is impeccable.Lufthansa is Europe’s biggest airline. The last incident, it suffered was on the runway at Warsaw airport in 1993, in which a crew member and a passenger died. Among the other very large European airlines, only British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair have better safety records than the German carrier. The last two have never suffered a fatal crash.

Germanwings a no-frills operator, even after being a low cost airline is very safe. The plane that crashed was a 24-year-old A320 aircraft which had gone through rigorous checks.

Airbus A320’s record

A320 entered service in 1988, the  aircraft has flown 80 million flights, carrying one billion passengers. The type has suffered 11 fatal accidents. That is an average of one calamity every two-and-a-half years. Six have happened in the past nine years, a rate of one every one-and-a-half years. This is the second Airbus A320 crash in two months. The circumstances of the loss of the AirAsia jet flying between Surabaya and Singapore in December are still unknown. But according to researches there is an inappropriate reaction by the pilots to challenging weather in the shape of a fierce tropical storm.

According to the leading aviation safety expert, the two big airline manufacturers have broadly similar accident rates for their respective short-haul workhorses: the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737.

The fair comparison to make is with later models of the Boeing 737, starting with the 300 series which was launched in the mid-1980s; the earlier versions had much higher accident rates. The accident rates relative to the number of planes flying are very similar for both manufacturers.

Failure of Data-Streaming technique

Data streaming is a technique which has been considered an option to avert the crashes has been in much news after the MH370 crash. It is to duplicate the information collected on board by the flight data recorders: conversations in the cockpit, and details of the pilots’ commands and aircraft performance. Data streaming was not of any help in this particular crash.

This year around 3.5 billion passenger journeys will be made. If the death rate of the previous year’s continues in 2015, about 1,000 people will die – most of them, on airlines in the developing world where safety standards are less rigorous.

In 2015 it is likely that 1.2 million people will die on the roads worldwide. And the number of victims in this plane crash corresponds to the average death toll in three weeks in crashes on German roads. The risk of life in air travel remains extraordinarily low.

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