The Miami Herald
U.S. skies ruled safe in 2002
No-death record third in 10 years
by Seth Borenstein
During stressful times, everyone in aviation refocuses attention,
and ''it adds up to a reemphasis of the fundamentals,'' Farrier
Also, with air traffic down about 10 percent from 2000, many older
airplanes were taken out of service, making the American airliner
fleet younger, he said.
''What a testament to the world's best aviation system,'' Secretary
of Transportation Norman Mineta said. ``It is truly remarkable that
at the same time we have built unprecedented security into our system,
it also has retained its status as the safest system in the world.''
There was only one accident in 2002 that the National Transportation
Safety Board considered major, and it didn't really involve an airliner.
A FedEx Boeing 727 crashed in Tallahassee in July, injuring one
There also were more than 300 fatal accidents in small personal
planes and charter aircraft that aren't regularly scheduled commercial
airliners, such as the crash that killed Sen. Paul Wellstone and
his wife, daughter and three aides in October.
More security measures -- and probably more travel delays -- are
coming with the new year. More than 90 percent of the nation's checked
luggage will be mechanically searched for bombs under a Dec. 31
baggage-screening deadline set by law. The rest will get waivers
allowing less rigorous examinations, such as checks by bomb-sniffing
With more screening, American fliers feel safer and more secure,
according to Ira Weinstein, the president of Airport Interviewing
& Research, a White Plains, N.Y., company that surveys fliers
for more than 80 airport authorities.
In several thousand interviews conducted in late October, 60 percent
of U.S. passengers said they had confidence in airport security
checkpoints, compared with 51 percent before the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks, Weinstein said. Overall passenger satisfaction increased
12 percent in the past six months, he said.
People said they didn't mind the longer waits -- an average of
71 minutes inside terminals after arriving early for screenings
as recommended -- and wanted more noticeable security guards in
terminals and main concourses, Weinstein said.