It’s predicted that the number of people choosing to travel by air will double in the next 20 years with a steady increase in the number of airline passengers beginning this year (2012) and just going up each year after that; moreover, companies using air freight lines to move cargo across the country is also going to skyrocket, all according to the Federal Aviation Administration:
According to the forecast, the total number of people flying commercially on U.S. airlines will increase by 0.2 percent to 732 million in 2012, then to 746 million in 2013, and then increase more rapidly to 1.2 billion in 2032. The aviation system is expected to reach one billion passengers per year in 2024.
Cargo traffic on U.S. airlines, as measured by Revenue Ton Miles (RTMs – one ton of cargo flying one mile) is projected to more than double over the course of the forecast, growing at an average rate of 4.9 percent per year. The forecast also notes that in 2011, the average percent of occupied seat miles per plane on commercial flights reached a record level of 82 percent. These load factors are expected to reach an average of 83.4 percent in 2032.
What About Safety Concerns with This Increase in Air Travel? Is It Dangerous to Fly on US Commercial Airlines?
Americans still have solid memories of 9-11 which are refreshed with every TSA security measure at the local airport, however most airlines will purport to having extreme safety measures in place for their passengers, crew, and cargo. Some will point to the fact that the United States has not suffered a big plane crash with people dying in horrific airline accidents for several years now. Others will counter that it’s happening in other parts of the world, and that the clock is ticking on the inevitability of another big U.S. plane crash.
We’ll hope for the best, knowing how wicked these airline crashes are, and keep a wary eye on airline safety measures. And, it is interesting to note that the FAA has just released its news that FAA air traffic controllers, radar techs, and other FAA employees who report mistakes being made either by themselves or others will be protected from retaliation or punishment for speaking up.
It’s part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s new “safety culture” — which suggests that there is a movement to boost safety (and therefore, lessen danger) through this change in tactics on how to deal with whistleblowers within the agency.
Good thing, since it’s also being reported that errors are on the rise: planes narrowly missing each other because of air traffic controller mistakes are especially scary. According to the FAA, controller errors increased 81 percent from 2007 through 2010.