Safety in the Air

September 17, 1958

Report Outline
Flying Safety on Eve of Jet Travel
Measures to Protect Air Travelers
Developments in Federal Regulation

Flying Safety on Eve of Jet Travel

Striking Air Transportation Safety Record

Giant jet transports, scheduled to go into coast-to-coast service next January, will traverse a congested airspace regulated by an air traffic control system that has not yet caught up with the meteoric rise in aviation activity. Establishment of the Federal Aviation Agency, under an act approved Aug. 23, is expected to promote air safety in the dawning era of commercial jet flying. But considering the tremendous growth still expected in commercial, private, and military air traffic, extraordinary efforts will be needed to prevent increases in air disasters, particularly from midair collisions. Stuart G. Tipton, president of the Air Transport Association of America, said on May 29: “The American airspace has rapidly become a vanishing natural resource insofar as free access and capacity for safe operation of aircraft is concerned.” Speedy jet planes disproportionately shrink available airspace.

The irony of the serious air safety problems now confronting the nation is that they stem largely from traffic expansion that has been fostered by past achievements in making it safer to fly. Public confidence in air transportation has soared with steady improvement in the safety record of American aviation. Fewer than 1.2 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic airlines in 1938. The annual total had risen to 12.2 million by 1946, to 17.6 million by 1950. Last year nearly 45 million passengers rode the scheduled domestic airlines.

These 45 million passengers were flown over 26 billion passenger-miles. While the number of passengers was more than 35 times greater than in 1938—and the number of passenger-miles about 50 times greater—the passenger fatality rate was only 1/45 of the rate 20 years earlier. Scheduled domestic airlines averaged 2.2 fatalities per 100 million passenger-miles for the five-year period ended in 1947; the average fell to 1.05 fatalities for the five years ended in 1952 and dropped to an all-time low of 0.41 for the five years from 1953 through 1957. James R, Durfee, chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, told a Houston audience on July 3 that:

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Air Transportation
Jan. 18, 2019  Airline Industry Turbulence
May 15, 2015  Airline Safety
Oct. 18, 2013  Domestic Drones
Mar. 07, 2008  Future of the Airlines
Jun. 21, 2002  Future of the Airline Industry
Sep. 24, 1999  Airline Industry Problems
Oct. 08, 1993  Airline Safety
Oct. 24, 1986  Airline Deregulation
Oct. 19, 1984  Safety in the Air
Nov. 26, 1982  Troubled Air Transport Industry
Jun. 25, 1976  Air Safety
Mar. 21, 1975  Air-Fare Control
Jan. 27, 1971  Future of the Airlines
Sep. 10, 1969  Jumbo Jets: New Travel Era
Feb. 22, 1967  Airport Modernization
Mar. 18, 1964  Supersonic Transport Race
Feb. 07, 1962  Troubles of the Airlines
May 11, 1960  Prevention of Air Accidents
Sep. 17, 1958  Safety in the Air
May 23, 1956  Jet Age Problems
May 20, 1953  Safer Flying
Feb. 26, 1947  Air Safety
Jun. 08, 1944  Domestic Air Transportation
Apr. 08, 1944  International Air Transport
Mar. 02, 1939  Transatlantic Air Commerce
Jul. 14, 1927  Commercial Aeronautics
Jun. 20, 1925  Development of Commercial Air Navigation
Air Safety and Security