Russians are less afraid of flying, according to the results of another survey, conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM.) Over the past four years, the percentage of those suffering from aerophobia has decreased from 33% to 23%, and the percentage of respondents who have no fear of flying at all has increased from 62% to 73%.
Moreover, it turns out that women suffer from aerophobia twice as often as men, people with incomplete secondary education twice as often as highly educated people.
“Should we be happy with these figures?” the correspondent of wek.ru asked Valery SHELKOVNIKOV, President of the Flight Safety International Consulting and Analytical Agency. “Or is it just a clear indicator that the majority just has recently switched to ground transport for all known reasons? And the most reckless adventurists continue to fly...”
“Everything is relative in this world,” says Valery Georgievich. “According to the same VCIOM, for the last two or three years, 71% of Russians have not had the chance to use air travel at all. Do VCIOM figures indicate a decrease in people's fear of flying due to improved flight safety of our airlines? I wouldn't say so. But I'll give you a piece of advice by telling you this fact. Once a good acquaintance of mine, who is afraid of flying, called me and said that she was going on a vacation to Vietnam with her husband. Having congratulated her on the occasion, I asked what airline company they were flying with. When I heard the answer, I immediately advised her to give them up and fly with the Vietnamese air carrier. Why? The thing is that our agency constantly monitors the information, how thoroughly this or that air carrier adheres to the International Air Transport Association IATA requirements. To be more specific, the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) program, acknowledged in the aviation world, which allows assessing operational management and control systems of an enterprise. The thing is that not every Russian airline for various reasons, including financial, considers it necessary to follow this requirement. So, it's probably clear to you that the Vietnamese airline, unlike ours, did such a safety audit.”
According to Shelkovnikov, confidence in flight safety is not the only condition to reduce passenger fear. Alas, the media coverage, amplified by the Internet, of large-scale and even small plane crashes also makes some people wary of flying. Not to mention those who are worried about their own health, especially those with chronic illnesses. There are also many who are haunted by acrophobia (fear of heights) or claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces). For these people, even the constant reminder of aviation experts that air transport is the safest area among all modes of transport is little consolation especially now against the backdrop of Western sanctions, particularly in the area of air travel, which reduces public confidence in them. The national carrier is already beginning to dismantle planes for parts. That is, cannibalization has also affected Russian air carriers.
“It is worth looking at the dynamics of the survey itself, because VCIOM also polled those who had never flown at all,” said Andrei PATRAKOV, the founder of the consulting network of experts, comments on the situation. “It is possible that some of them used rumors. The very statistics of the number of people flying today indicate a sharp decrease. I am skeptical of such conclusions as “all is quiet in Baghdad,” especially when many of my colleagues are inclined to see problems obscured behind attempts at this reassurance. But ignoring them is fraught with danger. It was at least worth noticing how aviation authorities are pushing airlines to choose between money and safety in favor of the former. Take for example their recommendations to crews to engage brakes less when landing in order to save fuel. It seems to fit within the framework of the governing documentation, but there is psychological pressure on the pilots. It is good to have an experienced pilot in the cockpit, but what if it's a pilot who has just started flying independently? Everything has to be calculated, especially since the accident statistics for last year are not encouraging. ICAO has just recently expressed its concerns about the level of safety of air travel in Russia, explaining it by dual registration of aircraft and problems with the recognition of airworthiness certificates. However, the Ministry of Transport and Rosaviatsia have hastened to say that the maintenance of aircrafts is all right and flight safety is not threatened. On the other hand, it is not quite right to put the purely internal problems of safety in the public eye, frightening passengers. It can kill their desire to use air transport.”
“But you cannot escape the reality. Everybody has heard about the problems with replacing imported spare parts, even for superjets.”
“No pilot will lift an airliner unless he is sure that everything on board is in order. Nevertheless, when we are talking about imported equipment, we should not forget that its condition was the responsibility of not our, but foreign specialists, who live not by our, but by their own laws. The scheme of transferring this equipment to our registry often raises questions even in terms of documentation, not to mention the practical operation. Especially when the parts come from third world countries, where the attitude to their quality, in contrast to the Western, to put it mildly, is not the most fundamental, although the documents are “okay.” The cases of elementary agreements with the Federal Air Transport Agency do not add to the confidence in safety either. When the urgent re-registration of imported small aircraft was announced, there were even lines for it at this agency.
...They say that during the Soviet times the journalists were asked by the Ministry of Civil Aviation not to stress the notion of “safety,” and it would be better to substitute it with “quality.” Otherwise, we would scare away all the passengers. It seems that nowadays VCIOM brings us back to this practice, saying there is nothing to be afraid of flying, and we should leave our fears on the ground if only we could forget about this very safety...