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Make Sure the International Airline You Book is Safe

Spohrer Dodd

The mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has travelers nationwide concerned about the safety of flying internationally. Though air travel is statistically one of the safest modes of transportation, there are risks. And those risks rise when flying airlines of countries where aviation safety standards and regulations are less stringent that those here in America. To help ensure your safety while flying internationally, airplane accident attorneys with Jacksonville’s Spohrer & Dodd offer a few tips.

A first stop is to check the US Federal Aviation Administration’s list of countries that adhere to international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance established by the International Civil Aviation Organization, the United Nation’s technical agency for aviation. Under its International Aviation Safety Assessments (IASA) program, the FAA rates countries with a Category 1 or Category 2 rating. A Category 1 rating means that a foreign airline does comply with ICAO standards. A Category 2 means than an international airline does not meet the ICAO’s minimum safety oversight standards. Currently, Bangladesh, Barbados, Curacao, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Serbia, Saint Maarten, and Uruguay have Category 2 ratings.

One shortcoming of the IASA is that it does not review individual foreign airlines. Fortunately, there are other informational resources. One is the International Air Transport Association’s online registry. The IATA is an industry organization dedicated to helping its member airlines continually improve their safety standards and maintain exceptional safety records. Airlines undergo extensive reviews before being admitted as members, and those members are listed in the website’s member registry.

For a heads-up on foreign airlines you may want to avoid, check the European Commission’s online list of air carriers it has banned. These airlines have been prohibited from serving European airports based on incident records and are considered to be “operating in conditions below essential safety levels” by the commission’s aviation safety authorities.

If you or your dependents are injured while flying internationally, understand that you may have a tough legal battle ahead of you, in part because the laws of multiple countries may be in play. Choose an attorney with specific expertise in international aviation matters to represent you and your family.