Aircraft Accidents and Speculation-less Reporting

I spoke the other day with an aviation columnist; his questions were about the Trigana Air Service flight 257 accident and the ensuing investigation. He had asked my input, me having been a major accident investigator, on what directions the investigation would take.
You can tell when you are talking to someone who is from the aviation industry in that their questions are not aimed at sensationalism, but at facts. We discussed which recorder had been found, which had not, and what the procedure would be for acquiring that stored information. Also I was asked what data could be gleaned from the flight data recorder and what from the voice recorder. Finally he asked what I would do – as the maintenance investigator – to take advantage of the time and move the accident investigation forward.
This is important; while the pilot investigation group is piecing together the last minutes of the late pilots’ actions and the engineer groups are locating, marking and mapping the broken aircraft and engines; the Maintenance Group can be looking into the upkeep of the airframe and engines. Their focus is on inspections, aircraft health, the environment maintenance is conducted under, and whether important checks had been missed. They are saving valuable time.
That is what investigations are about: time conservation and proactive strategies. They guarantee a quicker probable cause and smarter recommendations, resulting in the saving of lives.

Aircraft Accidents and the Voice of Reason

The other day, Miracle on the Hudson Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger stated on Face the Nation that it is only a matter of time when an unmanned aerial vehicle brings down an airliner. “It’s not a matter of if it wil happen; it’s a matter of when it will happen.”

If the aviation industry isn’t going to take a wake up call from the Hero of the Hudson seriously, I worry that the only thing they’ll ever understand is the soberness of a tragedy.

Aircraft Accidents and the Schoolyard Bullies

Debris from what is expected to be the remains of Malaysia Airlines MH370 washed up on shore, putting the missing aircraft back in the news and victims’ families back in their personal Hell. Developments in the year-old Malaysia Airlines MH17 flight shot down in July 2014 – allegedly – by Soviet-sympathetic rebels are now being looked at, twelve months too late. And for some reason the world seems okay with this lack of urgency and justice.
To be sure, the MH370 investigation would have been handled more productively if the Marx Brothers had taken the lead. The MH17 tragedy would be a closed-case if world leaders did not hide under desks, worried to push Putin on what happened; an answer that could never qualify as a viable excuse for killing 298 innocent victims.
But to me the sudden arrival of MH370’s debris seems to be, for lack of a better word: convenient. If I was an Oliver Stone-type conspiracy theorist I could liken the appearance of a flap and suitcase to the debris launched out the U-Boat’s torpedo tubes in The Enemy Below (1957). Because of the incompetence of the lead investigators on the Malaysia Airlines MH370 accident, we will never know why the aircraft disappeared or how. The thought of MH370 landing safely and the airliner held for future nefarious purposes isn’t beyond the pale; it may just be possible; we may yet find out what happened to it.
For MH17, the terrorism employed to bring down the airliner is unquestioned. This is what happens when world leaders cower and let the schoolyard bullies to take control.