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12 ideas to improve cabin safety in aviation

Cabin safety on commercial airplanes is already very high, thanks to continuous improvement and innovation. However, there's always more room for progress. Cabin safety should always be at the forefront and contribute to preventing incidents or accidents. It is designed to protect the aircraft occupants and aims to increase survivability in an emergency. In an accident, most occupants survive, but we are still learning from every incident/accident. We need to identify potential hazards and mitigate and manage any risk to safety.Here are some potential areas where cabin safety could be further enhanced: Technology Enhanced evacuation lighting and advanced fire detection: While current systems work well, exploring brighter, longer-lasting, and more efficient emergency lighting could improve visibility during an evacuation, especially in challenging situations like smoke or darkness. Exploring and implementing faster, more sensitive fire detection systems and even more effective fire suppression methods could provide crucial seconds in case of an onboard fire. Personalization of safety instructions: Using augmented reality to tailor safety briefings to passengers' needs and abilities, potentially improving understanding and preparedness to evacuate the aircraft. This may be more effective than improving the safety demonstration which we are always trying to improve and hope that passengers consider. There seems to be an unwillingness by some passengers to watch a safety briefing. Locking of overhead lockers: Another growing issue is passengers taking their bags with them during evacuation. In the accident of Aeroflot flight 1492, passengers and a crew member died because of people taking their baggage with them. Emirates Flight 521 evacuated all passengers and crew successfully, but cell phone footage shows people taking their bags, which would have slowed the evacuation. Flight crew or the senior cabin crew should lock the overhead lockers during taxi, take-off and landing. Procedures and training Standardization of emergency procedures: While most airlines follow similar practices, even more global harmonization of emergency procedures could ensure passengers understand what they need to do should they have to evacuate regardless of airline or aircraft type. Airlines could ask passengers to sign a disclaimer to ensure cooperation in an emergency. The role of cabin crew should also be understood fully by the public in that cabin crew are safety professionals and not servers.RELATED STORY:Video shows Japan Airlines A350 burst into flames after runway collision, 5 killed Standardization of crew commands: Standard commands for all cabin crew could be simplified, accepted globally by airlines and always spoken in English. English is the official language of aviation. In the recent Japan Airlines evacuation, many people could not understand the Japanese commands. Even with the polite use of 'please' in commands, time is of the essence. Enhanced crew training for diverse situations: Ongoing training for cabin crew could specifically address individual medical emergencies, dealing with the rise of disruptive passengers and other uncommon but critical situations. Implementing a program like cabin safety masterclasses every 6 months to enhance safety could improve training. Lithium-ion battery fires are becoming more common, this masterclass could serve as a reminder. Improved passenger education: Beyond the pre-flight briefing, exploring interactive training or educational materials that could significantly enhance passengers' understanding of safety measures and procedures. There may be the potential for an online course or an at-the-airport advisory before their flight. Improved Crew Resource Management (CRM) training: Although we've come a long way with CRM over the last 30 years, it can still be improved. The issue of coordination between the flight crew and cabin crew has gotten better but in some accident reports, we still see factors of 'them' and 'us' instead of working as a team. More practical training and case studies should be a focus.RELATED STORIES:Examining the mental health crisis in aviation after a recent crashMental health in aviation - how the FAA is changing views on mental illness Other areas Mental health and well-being of crew: Ensuring crew members have access to mental health support and manage fatigue could ultimately contribute to better decision-making and passenger safety. Flight time limitations could be reviewed and improved to allow slightly fewer working hours and improve performance. With long-haul flights, scheduling could be improved so that there is less jet lag experienced. The low salary of cabin crew, especially in the UK and Europe needs to be addressed as well as discrimination in Europe, the Middle East and Asia for cabin crew to be under the age of 30. A mix of experienced crew of all ages would be appropriate for maximum safety. Accessibility for passengers with disabilities: Enhancing cabin design and procedures to ensure everyone can evacuate safely and efficiently remains an important area of focus. There should always be enough equipment available at airports (eg. wheelchairs) and dedicated staff to help. Regulation of private jet flight attendants: At the current time, a loophole persists in that most private jets have 19 seats or under and the aviation authorities do not require there to be a flight attendant on board. This has led to untrained 'hosts' or 'servers' being onboard purely for service. In an emergency situation, a trained flight attendant knows what to do but a 'server' does not. All private jet flight attendants should be licensed and regulated. Disruptive passengers: Although the authorities are issuing much higher fines for disruptive passengers, there has been a massive increase in cases. An improvement could be seen if disruptive passengers are banned from flying for life. The problem should be stopped before the disruptive passenger boards the aircraft. As unruly behavior is sometimes fueled by alcohol, it might be worth limiting access to alcohol at the airport. With every accident report, there is a cabin safety aspect or survivability account, where recommendations can be made to improve training and safety standards. From Eastern Airlines flight 401 we learned that flashlights were needed as part of the safety equipment, shoulder harnesses were added to crew jump seats and CRM training was introduced. With British Airtours Flight 328, we learned that fire retardant materials were necessary. Smoke hoods for cabin crew were brought in and over-wing briefings became essential. British Midland Flight 092 led to improved seating and overhead lockers as well as lessons in CRM and aircraft terminology. United Airlines flight 811, a decompression, ensured that masks would be already attached to oxygen bottles and the need for megaphones and extra life vests to be carried.READ MORE AVIATION SAFETY NEWS It's important to remember that even small improvements can have a significant impact on overall cabin safety. Continuous research, development, and collaboration between airlines, manufacturers, and regulators are crucial to keep pushing the boundaries and ensuring the safest possible flying experience for everyone. It's also worth noting that the specific improvement needs may vary depending on the type of aircraft and the operating environment. For example, regional airlines might have different priorities compared to long-haul carriers. Although there will always be lessons learned and flights are safer than ever, there is still much work to be done.
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