Houston Amazon-Atlas crash sparks air cargo safety concerns

THE fifth fatal crash in 10 years has revived concern about air freight safety, reports Bloomberg

28 February 2019 - 19:00

THE fifth fatal crash in 10 years has revived concern about air freight safety, reports Bloomberg.

Cargo pilots typically fly overnight, work with less than optimal rest, landing at smaller airports and carry hazardous goods, say experts.

Five domestically registered aircraft have crashed since 2009 - killing 16 - including the recent plunge into a bay near Houston of an Amazon plane carrying that took the lives of all three aboard.

'We do have some safety concerns that remain,' said Independent Pilots Association president Robert Travis.

Thirteen pilots who work for airlines that Amazon Air contracts with told New York's Business Insider that their pay and benefits fall below industry standards.

'It's a ticking time bomb,' said Robert Kirchner, an Atlas pilot and executive council chairman of Teamsters Local 1224, adding that those working on Amazon flights tend to be less experienced.

John Cox, president of consulting company Safety Operating Systems and a former airline pilot, said 'there have been a higher number of cargo accidents than passenger accidents almost as far back as I can remember.'

?Flying cargo is a different type of operation than carrying passengers,? said Capt Cox, a pilot who writes the Ask the Captain column for USA TODAY. ?There are higher levels of risk and there are more hazards flying cargo than there are with passengers.?

Said Houston lawyer and aviation expert Josh Verde: 'The piece of evidence or information that I'd want the most right now is the audio from that cockpit.

'That's what makes this crash even more disturbing because you just don't have 767s falling out of the sky. I want to know was there a struggle, was there a loss of control, was there communication between the pilots about just what exactly is going on.

'For example, was the impact the cause of the breakup, or did the aircraft break up in flight? What types of forces or stresses were imposed on the metal of the aircraft and what mode did that metal fail?' said Mr Verde.

The Federal Aviation Administration, as part of its ongoing efforts to monitor safety issues, had been 'taking a focused look at cargo operations' before the accident, the agency said.


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