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Be prepared for risks of air acrobatics

A small plane on the ground at the scene of a crash in Dittingen, Switzerland, on Aug 23, 2015.
A small plane on the ground at the scene of a crash in Dittingen, Switzerland, on Aug 23, 2015.PHOTO: EPA

The recent crashes in the British and Swiss air shows raise concerns about the safety of air acrobatics, particularly when large crowds are present ("Casualties reported as plane crashes at UK air show", last Sunday; and "2 planes crash at Swiss air show; 1 pilot killed", last Monday).

We are proud of our air force and do not question the competence of our pilots. At every National Day Parade, the crowd-puller is certainly the wonderful display of air acrobatics by our pilots.

However, we need to evaluate whether it is necessary to take the risks of putting on air acrobatics, in the presence of a large crowd, VIPs and foreign dignitaries.

Even in the best of hands, accidents can happen, and it would be disastrous if a plane or several planes were to plough into the crowd.

The pilots in Switzerland and Britain are no novices; yet the unexpected happened.

This does not mean that we scrap air acrobatics entirely, but we should consider the degree of risk and the thoroughness of the safety procedures in these displays.

Quek Koh Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 30, 2015, with the headline 'Be prepared for risks of air acrobatics'. Print Edition | Subscribe