Not such an impressive record Your annual safety review (Flight International, 25-31 January) paints a glossy, "safety culture" picture. Yet luck seems to have played a major role in the low hull loss/death rate recorded in 2004. The World Airways McDonnell Douglas DC-10 with 252 people on board that lost nearly half its right elevator over the Atlantic on 10 April could have been another Sioux City - or worse. So could the Iberia Airbus A320 incident on 11 May, when the cowlings let fly and hit the tail fin. We nearly lost an Emirates Airbus A340 and its 224 souls at Johannesburg - that really was close. As was the KLM/Air Dolomiti runway incursion at Munich on 3 May, with nearly 200 people at risk. There were many other close calls: Nippon Cargo's Boeing 747 decompression due to structural tearing on 5 December could have been yet another freighter loss. Throw in events such as the AirTran Airways Boeing 717 that had to return to Atlanta on 5 March because of an alert, the American Eagle ATR 72-200 which swerved off the runway at Puerto Rico on 9 May, runway incursions at Manchester and Tokyo, and so on, and it becomes obvious that (a) what we got away with in 2004 is very sobering; and (b) luck, and good airmanship, saved the day. So are we really as safe as you suggest? Lance Cole Swindon, Wiltshire, UK

Mysteries of HR speak I originally interpreted LS Tuckfield's criticisms of human resources departments (Flight International, 18-24 January) as sour grapes. I have since read a job advertisement, from a large, respected aeronautical group, specifying that candidates be "able to make synthesis (written or verbal) ". Employers cannot really expect to attract the best candidates through such incomprehensible language. Ironically, the same advert requires the candidate to possess "good communication skills". Perhaps Mr Tuckfield was correct, perhaps HR is failing the industry Trevor Tweed Pierre-Chƒtel, France

Unnecessary inputs I have just re-read the instruction manual for my car and it has no references to possible problems which may be caused by "unnecessary and excessive" inputs to my steering wheel that may cause the wheels to fall off. How on earth (or elsewhere) could a large passenger aircraft, carrying hundreds of passengers, be designed and certificated for use when it is possible to cause structural failure simply by pressing too hard on the rudder pedals? ("Report lays AA587 to rest...maybe", Flight International, 25-31 January). Surely there must be some sort of load/stress limits that could (should?) automatically limit such actions. What will we have next? Medical testing of pilots to ensure that they do not have excessive muscular strength? Graeme McLeod Waikanae, New Zealand

Well done Westland In 1984, on behalf of a UK component supplier, my colleagues and I spent many hours on our response to a request for proposals from Westland on the EH101. The specification was extremely demanding. It wanted technology that was far beyond anything that had ever been tried on a helicopter. We went back to the company several times, pointing out that what it was asking for was very advanced and would be very expensive and asking if they were sure. The answer was yes, and that this project was to leapfrog European helicopter technology over the rest of the world into the middle of the next century. Congratulations to Westland, Agusta and all other companies that made the EH101 a winner. John Mattocks Alcester, West Midlands, UK

 Intelligent read My reaction to your "A giant awakes" was the complete opposite of your correspondent Charles Penn (Flight International, 25-31 January). I was fascinated by the detail of the Airbus A380 development programme. I buy Flight International because it is technically and commercially literate. I would not pay the cover price for a magazine so thin on such poor paper if it was just another enthusiast magazine. Please keep up your intelligent standards. There are plenty of spotter glossies to give people pretty pictures and fluffy prose. Andrew Barber Thame, Oxfordshire, UK

Size matters While the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster is still at the forefront of politicians' minds, the underfunded UK Ministry of Defence should press for some extra equipment useful in such situations - by, for example, buying a sixth Boeing C-17 for the Royal Air Force. The need for transport helicopters on site quickly means the future Royal Navy/RAF SABR should be the largest machine that will fit inside an Airbus A400M. We are used to airliners in a variety of sizes. Why not the A400M? John Hartley Woking, Surrey, UK

Source: Flight International