Aircraft Accidents and Surveillance Part One

My wife and her class of high school students watched a documentary about the food processing business. Not to elaborate on the video’s content, but one point was that the most … disturbing violations occurred at night when government overseers were off duty.
The truth is that most government surveillance is conducted in daytime; reason being that in government service overtime is frowned upon and a majority of extended surveillance trips are limited by budgetary concerns. In a continually expanding aviation industry, the FAA struggles with these restrictions.
The average response might be, “cry me a river”; the FAA needs to do their job whatever the issues; these airlines won’t oversee themselves. And in some cases, perhaps that’s true. For instance, a regional airline makes numerous short two hour hops between close points, so a trip out and back can be accomplished within a work period. Line maintenance is accomplished all the time; plenty of opportunity to stand over a mechanic’s shoulder in any given airport.
However, the larger worldwide operators require a more creative planning process. A Boeing 777 can fly from San Francisco to Taiwan in 14 hours. Most heavy maintenance takes place at night. What is an FAA inspector to do?
The air operators know about these constraints; it is human nature to ‘play while the cat is away’. So how does this affect aircraft accidents? When you consider that there is, maybe, one FAA inspector for every 100 mechanics OR pilots OR planners OR flight attendants of each airline; that these 100 are scattered through a twenty-four hour period across the face of the Earth and sky every … single … second of the day, how is proper surveillance conducted?
Over the next few weeks let’s look at the different modes …

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