ABC, CBS Ignores Zero Deaths, Fewer Airline Crashes

     You might think the networks harping on airlines for weeks over inspection controversies, delayed flights and ticket prices, might feel compelled to at least acknowledge some good news about the industry. But ABC “World News with Charles Gibson” or CBS “Evening News” didn’t.


     Both those April 16 broadcasts ignored new statistics showing the U.S. airline industry had zero fatal accidents in 2007. Unlike CBS and ABC, NBC “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams reported the figures in a brief segment near the end of the half-hour.


     “World News,” which has been especially hostile toward the recently announced merger of Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines, found time to report on the online auction of a famous Ferris wheel, but didn’t bother to mention the airlines it has been bashing experienced no fatalities in 2007.


     According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), flights classified under Plan 121 – aircraft with more than 10 seats on scheduled or nonscheduled flights – experienced 26 accidents and one fatality in 2007. The fatality doesn’t count against airlines because it involved a “nonscheduled Part 121 aircraft when a mechanic was fatally injured while working on a Boeing 737.”


     In 2006, there were 33 accidents, two of which accounted for 50 fatalities. In 2005 there were 40 accidents, three of which accounted for 22 fatalities. The last year with zero fatalities was 2002 and the number of accidents in 2007 is the lowest since 1994, when there were 23 accidents.


     The new report from NTSB shows a total of 535 deaths in 1,722 accidents in “general aviation” in 2007. Those accidents and fatalities came from other forms of aviation not including commercial air travel, but including small private planes, gliders, commuters and “on-demand” flights such as medevac. 


     The network news shows have been critical of the airline industry in recent weeks, as an FAA crackdown on safety inspections has grounded thousands of flights and the rising cost of jet fuel has contributed to higher ticket prices.


     When reports surfaced that Delta and Northwest would merge, all three networks reported the potential negative effects of the companies joining forces without offering input on how the merger would help passengers. “World News” bashed the merger two days in a row, even reporting on April 15 about opposition in Congress without citing numerous powerful lawmakers who support the proposal.


     On the NBC “Today” show April 15, co-host Meredith Vieira asked Delta CEO Richard Anderson to “guarantee your consumers that you would not reduce their service or raise their fares.”