http://travel.usatoday.com/flights/story/2011/06/How-safe-is-that-foreign-airline/48517212/1 Millions of Americans board flights on foreign airlines every year with little or no idea of how safe they will be, and the U.S. government provides no help telling them which ones may be risky to fly. In contrast, the European Union gives passengers a safety yardstick by listing foreign airlines — more than 270 of them from 20 nations — it has banned from flying into airports within the EU because it considers the airlines too unsafe. The U.S. government's aviation safety regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, lists nations' civil aviation authorities that do not meet minimum international standards for safe flying and do not provide proper oversight of airlines based within their borders. Some consumer and aviation safety advocates say the U.S. government is not doing enough to protect and inform Americans who board foreign-based airliners without knowing of the increased risks. "I don't believe the average traveler traveling internationally has any idea about the safety, or lack thereof, of foreign air carriers," says passenger-rights advocate Kate Hanni, executive director of the U.S. group FlyersRights.org. "Good, reliable data about foreign airlines and their countries' safety oversight is not publicly provided. If fliers knew the truth, they would likely not fly on many carriers." More than 20% of foreign civil aviation authorities evaluated by the FAA— or 22 of 103 countries assessed — don't meet minimum international safety standards and don't sufficiently oversee the airlines in their countries, the FAA says. The agency says its approach to alerting Americans about the safety of aviation overseas is best because it allows the U.S. government to deal with foreign governments, rather than individual airlines, to try to improve safety. It says foreign governments' civil aviation authorities are legally responsible for ensuring aviation safety and encouraging airlines' compliance with national aviation laws. The agency assesses foreign civil aviation authorities' ability to meet international safety standards through its International Aviation Safety Assessment Program. Consumer safety advocates say the program fails to provide useful safety information to travelers. The program is "very incomplete, potentially deceptive and only a starting point for travelers concerned about safety," says consumer advocate Paul Hudson, a member of the FAA's rule-making advisory committee.