On the face of it, it appears that flying is much safer than it used to be. There are statistics to back that up. Over the past few decades, American airlines have managed to fly for years without a single major incident. However, a number of recent fatal accidents show how dangerous it would be for us to become complacent about aviation safety.
The fact is that there are newer risks that are emerging on the horizon, even as the industry battles with older, better-known threats. One of those new threats has to do with the increasing dependence of American carriers on maintenance companies. Many airlines now outsource their maintenance activities to offshore companies, and that has raised the specter of substandard work and ill-maintained aircraft, posing a safety threat.
Another serious issue has to do with the rapidly aging planes in several large fleets. Many carriers continue to maintain older aircraft that may be well past their prime. Older aircraft may not be equipped with safety technology that can possibly divert a safety threat. This is a particularly serious problem among low-budget, so-called discount airlines.