British Airways Boeing 777 flying over Interstate 5 to Lindberg Field. Taken 8 October 2015

When it comes to aerodynamics, auto makers have borrowed some of the same basic principles used by airlines to streamline their cars. After all, less drag resulting from a vehicle’s sleeker design means better gas mileage and more speed – just like a plane cutting through the air.

 

But, there’s more to building a car than aerodynamics. While a car that’s pleasing to the eye attracts prospective buyers, safety has also become a major priority for consumers, the transportation industry, and government regulators.

 

FAA and NHTSA organize joint conference

 

Recently, two government agencies – the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) – have organized a joint conference and are inviting representatives from both the automakers and airlines to take part.

 

Sharing data between the airlines and government authorities, including the FAA, has proven successful in the past, improving safety and leading to a reported 83% decline in commercial airline fatalities from 1998 to 2008. And, to take a closer look at whether the automotive industry can gain from similar sharing, FAA administrator Michael Huerta and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind are bringing the two administrations together.

 

Overcoming the differences

 

The plan is for automakers and representatives from major U.S. airlines, such as Delta and United, to exchange ideas – all in the name of safety. However, overcoming the differences between the two industries may present a hurdle or two.

 

For instance, airlines are operators and automakers are manufacturers. Automobiles can be driven by anyone with or without a license or car insurance, for that matter, on any open roadway.  Furthermore, drivers could have a great deal of experience behind the wheel or very little, which can either increase or reduce the chance of being involved in an accident.

 

Meanwhile, airliners have to follow stringent federal regulations, are operated by highly- trained pilots on organized flight paths, and have a very low incident rate.

 

Regardless of their differences, any additional safety features that can be incorporated by automakers into their future vehicles is to everyone’s advantage – especially if safer cars translate into lower auto insurance rates. And, that could make these meetings worthwhile.

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