Which costs more, a safe operation or an accident?

Many of the blog readers have wondered, “How cost effective is a good safety program?” So, let’s look at some well known accidents to see first of all how much they cost? Comair at Lexington will run about $700 million when it is all done. Colgan Air at Buffalo will run about $500-650 million when it is all done. Air France in Toronto will run about $350 when it is all done. Air France off of Brazil in the Atlantic, costs will be dampened by the French legal system, but losses will exceed $350-400 million.

Well these are four familiar mishaps. Just on these four mishaps alone, the costs of the financial losses will exceed $2 billion. That is a huge sum of money and it will be paid out not to improve safety, but rather as damages for property and lives. After all of that money is spent, the safety issues involved in each mishap will also have to be addressed and fixed to prevent the next mishap from occurring again.

So, as far as the bottom line is concerned, accidents are a terrible business decision. To me, a much sounder business strategy would be a good safety program. And I have not heard of any safety program running into the $2 billion range yet!!

Quite the opposite usually, since most good safety programs really focus on human factors, people and as such really don’t cost that much.  Safety works best when is listens to what people are telling it, through a well run reporting and hazard resolution system.


Having run many such programs, I can assure you that I never had a $2 billion safety budget, nor anything remotely approaching that.

So, to answer the question, I would say a good safety program is a whole heck of a lot cheaper than an aviation disaster, for sure!

Published by Capt. Paul Miller

Aviation safety expert with 43 years in the sky

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