Aircraft Accidents and Sensationalistic Journalism

In September of 2001, I picked through the wreckage of United flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The devastation was incredible; I will carry the memory of that infamous act to my grave. As I moved through the debris there was no doubt in my mind that the blame lay with terrorists bent on leveling a blow to the United States. However, the FBI consistently built the case against the Taliban to assure beyond doubt, the guilt of the terrorist organization. Allegation did not play into the case at all.
In this last year we have seen the tragic end to Germanwings 9535 and the FlyDubai flight FZ981 disaster. There is no denying the accidents are tragic; I would never trivialize the losses to the victims’ families.
But let’s see what I said about these two accidents and the 9/11 attacks. The difference is that a reputable organization like the FBI made sure the accusations they made against the terrorists were true and supported with hard evidence.
The aviation media however, has printed excerpts from the CVR for Germanwings and FlyDubai as if the representation of these excerpts were taken in context and true. I feel that these aviation journalists that populate the social medias, e.g. Twitter, prove to be what’s wrong with the media in general; they print ambiguous articles as if they’re true statements; they misrepresent the dead who have no recourse to defend themselves.
This is true injustice. It is what social media sinks to. And it is what we settle on: lousy reporting that delivers impotent feelings of superiority.

Aircraft Accidents and FlyDubai flight FZ981

The media clown car that has been driving full bore since Germanwings 9535 crashed, seemed ready to embark on yet another 3-ring circus of sensationalism before the debris from FlyDubai flight FZ981 even had a chance to cool. Fortunately, someone with smarts is cutting off the little clown car that would.
Originally on social media, the late Captain Aristos Sokratous was thrown into the spot light with nothing more to go on beyond his name. Did he purposely put the 737-800 into a no-return scenario by taking on dangerous weather? Why did he not fly to an alternate airport if wind shear was a threat?
For the answers to these and other ignorant questions, the media should be forced to wait for a thorough investigation like the rest of us. Experts who hopefully learned from the Germanwings fiasco, will conclude a complete cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder investigation before delivering competent possibilities based on facts – not opinion. They will then do what they are supposed to do: deliver probable causes that seek to find solutions, not waving an accusatory finger.
We can only hope.

Aircraft Accidents and the Germanwings 9535 BEA Report

I’m not often fired up by incompetence, but this accident report takes the cake. For those who didn’t watch the media circus following this accident investigation, it was paraded through the media including in the US. So sure the First Officer purposely crashed the aircraft in a suicidal fit, the public was locked in on the verdict even before the BEA had the chance to complete the narrative.
On December 18, 2003, a Lineas Aereas Suramericanas DC-9-15F crashed in Mitu, Colombia. The cause was a broken cargo floor that trapped the control cables. The accepted narrative was that the horizontal stabilizer trim jackscrew ran away, like Alaska Airlines 261. Both pilots were blamed for controlled flight into a mountainside, when in reality they were vainly trying to get control of the plummeting jet.
Why does the BEA think the First Officer, Andreas Lubitz, committed suicide? For one he was diagnosed as depressed. How bad was his depression? The BEA would have you think that being diagnosed as depressed is enough. But one can be diagnosed as depressed because of serotonin levels being low; this causes insomnia, which drops the serotonin even more, causing further insomnia, ad infinitum.
Pilots are subject to erratic flight schedules, dead heading from home to domicile, as well as other job requirements that can disrupt circadian sleep, which will drop serotonin levels causing depression.
But the BEA would have you believe he killed himself and others just because he was depressed.
Certain types of depression are treatable with drugs, like Zoloft; there are no adverse side effects and noticeable results are usually within days.
He was heard breathing on the CVR … but nothing else; no prayers, no refusals to open the door, no giggling hysterically and no last words to his family. Unlike Egypt Air 990 where he made his peace with God before shutting off the engines and nosing the 767 over. So why the drama? Why let the people in the back suffer, just auger it in Andreas. Why would Lubitz drag it out? Was he a sadist as well as a mass murderer?
How about this scenario? Lubitz suffers a stroke. He is physically unable to flip the door switch; he’s alive and breathing, but shows no other signs of activity. Or maybe he has a full blown cardiac arrest? What, because he’s an athlete he can’t? My high school friend was fifteen and the track captain before he had a massive heart attack. He hung on for over an hour before dying, breathing in and out. I think it could happen … I know it could happen.
But that, like the Colombian accident would require work and a refusal to follow the narrative.

Aircraft Accidents and the FAA Re-Authorization Act Part 4

The FAA Re-Authorization Act also speaks to the changes that will take place for Flight Standards in SEC. 332. FAA TASK FORCE ON FLIGHT STANDARDS RE21
FORM. Included below the general recommendations, the FAA is organizing a 20-member team to look into: (2) reorganizing Flight Standards Services to establish an entity organized by function rather than geographic region, if appropriate;

This means that the FAA will undergo an aggressive, if not complete, overhaul of its flight standards offices. What does that mean to the average aviator? The change will be minimal and won’t disturb the day-to-day movement of aircraft. However, the term ‘function rather than geographic region’ suggests that the FAA will no longer do business as a collection of regions, but will instead be national in its concerted efforts for consistency.

This is actually a good thing. The plan, as it seems, is to make, e.g. General Aviation answers-to-questions and legal interpretations be consistent across the US as opposed to being indigenous to one region. The hope is to have every airline, repair station, air taxi and general aviation person in New York be equal to their counterparts in California.

Aircraft Accidents and the FAA Re-Authorization Act Part 3

Reading the AIRR Act of 2016, I’m reminded of the old Peanuts cartoons where the teacher would speak in a wa-wa-wa voice; the only person(s) who understand what was said was Charlie Brown, Linus, or one of the gang, who respond to the unintelligible nonsense with pained faces.
I am not a small government advocate because of any particular party’s beliefs, but reading the AIRR Act supports my distaste for laws that come out of the Legislative Branch; the laws are a collection of individual words that are meant to clarify a point or change. For example, under SUBTITLE B – PASSENGER FACILITY CHARGES, Section 111 (1) (B) by striking “specified in paragraphs (1) and (4) and inserting “specified in paragraph (1)”, the whole intent of the rule is changed. What was originally in paragraph (1) and (4)? Do you think politicians care? Though it is necessary to be specific, the travelling public will never know what was changed. They may as well have been less inconspicuous and wrote, “We’re going to charge you a heck of a lot more now.”
The whole Act is chock full of this stuff. It’s often in response to demands by advocacy groups who want change in their favor. The only consequence of pushing for what you want is, as Mr. Spock once said, “After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.”
I prefer my own interpretation, oft repeated by me, “Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.”