Aircraft Accidents and Diverting Attention

EASA has decided to change the medical requirements of pilots following the Germanwings 9525 accident; they have decided to strengthen the medical requirements for pilots. They are making their decisions based on the report by the French BEA, France’s version of the NTSB.
EASA is in a bad situation; they must act …. somehow. Unfortunately, the BEA’s accident investigation resembled a Three Stooges episode; the cause of their chaos was that the BEA kept the media happy, filtering everything through the press as it was uncovered. The media then amplified the confusion by allowing the readers to add to it.
The BEA displayed unprofessional behavior and endangered the integrity of the investigation by being so loose-lipped with the media. The first officer, Andreas Lubitz was tried in the papers and the internet. That is not to say that Lubitz did not sabotage the aircraft, but now we may never know for sure if he did crash the airliner or simply suffer a physical malady, e.g. a stroke, and was unable to open the door.
But let me play Devil’s Advocate here and suggest Lubitz became incapacitated from a stroke or went into encephalitic shock, now where do the BEA’s findings go? They invested enough time making him out to be a terrorist, they would look foolish to take it all back. In the United States this past year there were at least two inflight pilot fatalities as they flew regular domestic passenger airliners. What if they had died while the other pilot was in the bathroom? What if a cargo airliner pilot died while the other pilot was in the blue room? Don’t you think a 400,000 pound airliner running out of fuel before pancaking in midtown during morning rush hour might present a problem? In 1992 I assisted in repairing a 727 cargo plane where a bird burst through the radome and took out the captain, forcing the first officer to land the plane while the Second Officer (Lord knows we don’t have THEM anymore) assisted. Yes, that really happened.
If what I present holds water, then how do we solve the pilot problem? Certainly no psychanalysis would have saved the flight. No, the answer would be that because of 9/11, WE … HAVE … CREATED … ANOTHER … PROBLEM, and we did it by reacting in a Chicken Little manner. Now we must fix it: the pilots can’t get back into the cockpit in an emergency! You want to start analyzing pilots, then start analyzing mechanics or flight attendants or caterers, air traffic control, or anyone else who can have a negative effect on an airliner.
When authorities try to get ahead of an accident or control the outcome of the report, the aviation community suffers. Would Lubitz have acted in that way or would he have reacted like the first officer of Egypt Air 990, making his intentions crystal clear? I would be interested to know what a psychoanalyst would say about that. If Captain Shah meant for others to find Malaysia Air MH370, would he have left such an easy trail to follow or would he have used it as a diversion from his real plan?
So what of it? What difference does it make now? Consider the FAA’s knee-jerk reaction to the National Airlines accident in Afghanistan; without so much as a factual report, Washington headquarters moved to ‘fix’ the problem National Airlines ‘suffered’ from. If National Airlines did suffer a catastrophic failure in the aircraft, what good are all the ‘fixes’ the FAA put in place?
And why would doing this be bad? Because it diverts attention away from the real problem(s). Any time you pull resources away from discovering the awful truth, the chances of learning what really may have happened become near impossible. And then you stand a good chance the accident will happen again in the future.

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