WASHINGTON, U.S. - U.S. President Donald Trump has claimed credit for something new right at the start of 2018 - inviting the year’s first social media mockery.
Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday morning, "Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news - it was just reported that there were zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record."
However, clarifying facts, experts noted that Trump took credit for the safety of the U.S. aviation system even though it is being run by a holdover from the previous administration.
The system that Trump claims he has imposed has actually avoided any commercial passenger fatalities for several years before he took office.
The "commercial aviation" that the President is referring to set a record in July 2013, when an Asiana Airlines plane struck a seawall as it was about to land in San Francisco, killing three people.
The last death on a U.S.-registered airline was in 2009 near Buffalo, New York.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, at least 13 deaths were reported last year in seven crashes involving commercial charter flights in the U.S.
The Aviation Safety Network reported that in 2017, there were no fatalities involving scheduled passenger jet airliners anywhere in the world.
However, including charter and cargo planes, there were ten airliner accidents resulting in 44 occupant fatalities and 35 deaths of people on the ground worldwide last year.
This makes 2017 the safest year ever.
In 2016, ASN recorded 16 accidents and 303 lives lost.
Bob Mann, president of aviation consultancy R.W. Mann & Co. said, “I’m unaware that the president has had any impact on aviation oversight policy or practice. Social media is not ‘oversight.’ In fact, his stated preferences - less ‘red tape,’ fewer regulations - would suggest a preference for less oversight, not strictness.”
John Cox, chief executive officer of consultant Safety Operating Systems and a former commercial airline pilot said that last year’s aviation safety record is the culmination of decades of work by industry and governments worldwide and should be applauded as a success story.
Cox explained, “It’s a great thing but I don’t think any one individual can take credit for it. As the head of the federal government, I suppose you can take credit for the very good work the FAA has done over the years, but it’s the work the people in the trenches have done that has led to this result."
When questioned on Trump’s tweet, Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, said, “President Trump has raised the bar for our nation’s aviation safety and security.”
He cited the anti-terrorism efforts and the plan to privatize air-traffic control by the Trump administration.
Shah said, “The President is pleased there were no commercial airline deaths in 2017, and hopes this remains consistent in 2018 and beyond.”
Soon after he tweeted praise for himself, social media users mocked the President’s statement, claiming credit for the air-travel safety record.
Trump in his tweet did not detail what steps he took to improve airline safety but social media users were quick to mock the president, questioning what he meant by saying he was "very strict" on commercial aviation.
Others asked what he actually did to improve airline safety and yet others called for Trump to be strict in other areas, such as mass shootings.
One social media commented, “Taking credit for planes not crashing,” while another said, “I wish POTUS would also be more strict on mass shootings since 2017 was the worst year on record.”
Another expressed, “Very strict on Commercial Aviation. What does this even mean? What, if anything, has he done? There hasn’t been a deadly scheduled airline crash in the US since 2009. The 2017 news is a global achievement.”
Yet another user said, “Meanwhile, the @FAANews administrator's five-year term ends this month and Trump hasn't named a replacement.”
One user noted, “Wait. Wait. Back up. Is he saying that he IMPOSED government regulation on an industry and it MADE THAT INDUSTRY SAFER? Because it sounds a lot like that's what he's saying.”
Another user said, “The United States last recorded a fatal airline passenger jet crash in February 2009, but Donald Trump being "very strict" on commercial aviation is the only real reason why flights are so safe today.”
One user said, “We had no gas explosions in our house this year. Thank you, Mr. President, for your hands-on leadership of FERC.”
And another said, “Unlike Obama, Trump won't let any planes crash. Not even a little bit. He's very strict.”
One user said, “Since flying on airplanes I have been very adamant that I did not want to die in an aviation accident. Good news - it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record! You're welcome.”
Another user said mockingly, “Since Donald Trump has taken office he has been very strict on Slippery Ice—it was just reported that i have not fallen once this winter, the best on record!”