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Think about all of the advancements we've had in computers since the 60s; it amazing! However, compare to air travel which has basically not changed. What is holding up the next big move in transportation?
It all depends on what airline you fly as far as the fleet age goes.... Boeing and Airbus have lots of new orders.
As far as older aircraft being safe...the level of maintenance on older aircraft is higher than on the newer ones.
(Since I used to work at an airline in the maintenance planning and records departments and make my living consulting for aircraft leasing companies and other financial entities that own aircraft portfolios one could say that I have more than just a passing knowledge of the subject).
Over 90% of the worlds arcraft fleet is leased, large purchases of aircraft are made by the large banks and leasing companies who in turn lease the aircraft to the airlines.
How safe I feel on an older aircraft depends on the airline and the nation in which that airline is based. In the U.S., the documentation of maintenance work, as well as the certification of the people who perform it and the parts and supplies they use, are all subject to fairly rigid regulations and oversight (compared to most other counties).
Our aging fleet of commercial aircraft doesn't concern me nearly as much as our aging roadways, railways, and bridges -- and all the 40 ton tractor-trailers that are cranking down the highway with improper loads on faulty brakes and bad tires while the driver talks on a cell phone and watches a DVD.
If the aviation community does move toward objective measures of risk, it is likely that the change will be
gradual. The current safety record of operations is a tribute to those who put it in place.
Great progress has been made in the area of aging aircraft. It is the mission of the F A A to ensure that
age related problems are predicted and eliminated prior to their having a major impact on safety