Aircraft Accidents and Pushing Name Recognition

Several years ago my former colleague at the NTSB was interviewed for a magazine; the article picture they used was taken at Reagan-National airport. This colleague stood with folded arms, an airline’s jet parked behind. The article’s title boasted that this person was responsible for keeping airliners from having accidents.
The take from the photo was that this person was responsible for keeping THAT particular airline from having accidents.
A picture is worth a thousand words. In 1997 House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Bob Dole objected to a photograph then-President Clinton had put in the newspapers; it portrayed Clinton as if he were ‘teaching’ the two Republicans. A star of the Star Trek franchise had his derriere computer sculpted to make it look smaller.
It’s all about appearances.
And so it is with the flying public; when they see an airline in the background of an article about preventing accidents, they assume that the airline in the background is a dangerous airline that needs fixing; a long-lasting impression. Think of TWA and often the first thought is of TWA flight 800. Remember Pan Am? You would also remember Pan Am flight 103.
In 1984 a foreign airliner’s DC-10-30 overshot a landing on JFK’s 4-R; the aircraft came to a stop nose down in Jamaica Bay. The damaged aircraft was viewable by your humble Blogger from Rockaway Boulevard. When I drove past on my way to work the day after the accident, the airline’s logos had been painted over with black paint simply because the airline wished to prevent any bad association with the accident and their brand name. They knew the price of bad recognition.
Aviation is one of those industries where the participants can be devastated by the thoughtless shenanigans of a naïve bureaucrat wishing to expand on their name recognition. As a former member of that wonderful industry, those who depend on the paychecks from those airlines deserve better.

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