Aircraft Accidents and Discipline

“When I was your age …” Every generation tells tales to make their trials more of an overwhelming challenge to the following generation. Our parents did this to us; we did it to our children. I had a particular favorite; my Uncle Frank from Miami, told my young New York cousins, who complained about taking the bus to school, that he used to walk five miles to school in Miami … uphill … in the waist-deep snow … both ways. Yeah, right. As if anybody actually walked in Miami.

These teaching moments were to prevent a worst-case scenario, to stop our children from turning into live versions of the first four kids to drop out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory tour. Parents fought bratty behavior with endless supplies of guilt, like when I gave my disruptive child the Malocchio – the Evil Eye – guaranteed to stop a child in mid-naughtiness. It was a parental tool for teaching Discipline, because guilt, in proper proportion, was an effective persuasion.

Discipline may be subject to point of view. Per dictionary.com, Discipline has twelve definitions. The first, a Noun: ‘Training to act in accordance with the rules.’ With children, this means training them to be respectful of others. In aviation, Discipline is also crucial. Respect for the Pilot in the left seat; the lead on the repair; the Flight Attendants in the cabin. In the news lately, passengers harass Flight Attendants for irresponsible reasons, e.g., not wearing masks on the flight. There are those who question if masks even work, but … that … is not the point.

To begin with, Flight Attendants warrant our respect; their training and selflessness demand it. Providing drinks and blankets? That is not their purpose. They stand between the passenger and injury or death. Second, to bully, to verbally or physically assault a flight attendant is against Federal Regulations, aka the Law. Per Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121.580 – Prohibition on interference with crewmembers: “No person may assault, threaten, intimidate or interfere with a crewmember in the performance of the crewmember’s duties aboard an aircraft operated under this part.” PERIOD! End of story! FACT: Flight Attendants are crewmembers. Interference includes disobeying an order, arguing and/or bullying for any reason, especially in areas of safety. Another FACT: The Federal government can impose fines of $5000.00 or more per person per event or imprisonment; the only caveat is that the airline has to press the issue because, unless the federal agency imposing the violation is present, the airline’s flight Crewmember has to file the charge and the airline must back their Crewmember.

Whether one agrees with the masks or not, it is an airline mandate, along the lines of ‘No Shirt, No Service.’ It is the airline’s right, a business decision. Each ticket sold is a contract; ‘We, the airline, will transfer you from Point A to Point B, but our rules must be complied with.’ Flight Attendants may be enforcing airline rules – the mask rule may not be Federal Law – but Title 14 CFR Part 121.580 still applies: Flight Attendants’ directions must be obeyed. Consider this: when purchasing a ticket, mask mandate rules are made clear. No one is coerced into purchasing the ticket; it is free will. If the purchaser understood the mandate prior to purchase, then too bad, so sad – wear the mask! If I am on that flight, I will have the Flight Attendant’s back.

The eleventh definition of Discipline, a Verb, states: ‘To bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.’ The twelfth definition, also a Verb, states, ‘To punish or penalize in order to train and control; to correct or chastise.’ Control? Punish? Penalize? Hmm, Discipline suddenly takes a dark turn, a whole new personality. Suddenly, Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

There is conversation in the industry that access to flights and services will be limited if a pending passenger has not received the virus out of China (VC) Vaccine, e.g., a Vaccine Passport. Even more concerning is that members of the mainstream media, aviation circulars, social media and celebrities have taken it upon themselves to bully, to coerce others to get the Vaccine, labeling those who do not as ‘unpatriotic’, ‘selfish’ and ‘irresponsible to their neighbors’ needs’. Considering the medical acumen of these judgmental people, the proper reply would be, “Sticks and Stones …”

This name-calling falls under the eleventh and twelfth definitions of Discipline: chastising and punishing others. Federal Regulation, aka the Law, does not support this mindset; this goes well beyond anyone’s rights and powers who are not medically trained and factually driven to make such a demand.

Many of my friends have taken the Vaccine. I do not add or detract from their decision, nor judge their actions to protect themselves or their families. That is not my point. People who do not feel the Vaccine is in their best interests are being pressured and … that … I do take issue with, because it is not the aviation industry’s place to pressure these people.

There are numerous reasons for people to avoid the VC Vaccine. Facts show the virus fear is exaggerated; the death tolls do not reflect true numbers; the Vaccine is untested; religious reasons; Constitutionality issues; the Administration’s flip-flops on taking the Vaccine. Aside from the obvious, with all the media’s contradictions and the present Administration’s reversals, who would take this Vaccine? Why would the airline industry push it? Why the rush; why the urgency? What is the principled response?

This Vaccine obsession begs each of us to question: If the Vaccine is as effective as we have been told; if the Vaccine is the success the media says it is, how does one who was vaccinated contract it from the non-vaccinated? More virus cases have been discovered due to improved testing; that is good news, because assuming the reports are factual, how many have actually died from the VC and … only … the VC? How many, then, need the Vaccine? It makes no sense; it is like asking where to bury the survivors.

It is unbelievable that those of child-bearing age and younger – those unaffected by the VC and its effects – quickly roll up their sleeves; that they do not question any Facts. Instead, they gamble their futures on fear and emotion. What about those with autoimmune disorders or other patients that cannot take the Vaccine. Are they unpatriotic? Irresponsible? When is the Choice to not take the Vaccine, respected?

When the Vaccine first came out in limited supply, I asked my doctor if I should take it. He said, “No,” for two reasons. His first reason was that I (and I quote), “… was not a Vaccine candidate.” My annual physical verified I was at my optimum weight. I do not drink, smoke, take non-prescribed drugs; I exercise regularly; take zinc and assorted vitamins. At 60 years old, he took me off my prescribed blood pressure medication – I did not need it anymore. The second reason: my Doctor said the Vaccine was untested; my wife’s Doctor said the Vaccine was dangerous; our friend’s two children – both General Practitioners – said, “Avoid the Vaccine.” Who, then, should give me medical advice? Four experienced doctors or airline managers and media editors with no medical training? What is the principled response?

It seems strange to have aviation executives pressuring customers through guilt to take a drug that cannot be untaken. The Vaccine cannot be removed once received; it cannot be filtered out of the blood; it is a forever vaccination. Who knows this Vaccine’s effects on Americans in the future? Its effects on pregnant women; their unborn children? How do we know? How will the aviation industry be impacted when we learn all the yet-to-be-discovered side-effects? Imagine designing an airliner with the attitude of, “We will build it, fly families in it and, only then, check to see if it is safe.”

States, like Oklahoma, require those wanting the Vaccine to sign a waiver, acknowledging the VC Vaccine is Experimental; that the government is not liable if the Vaccine causes injury or death. What is an Experimental drug? In 1987, my Mother died from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a progressive neurological disorder that traps an alert mind in a crippled body. In 1985, she volunteered for an experimental drug program to test a cure, knowing that the drug would not restore her limbs or prolong her life – she would still die. Life Insurance would not cover her death because the experimental drug could backfire, hastening the ALS. Mom took the experimental drug, anyway, hoping to save future generations. That … is what an Experimental drug is.

We have fast tracked this Vaccine, processed it, labeled it, assumed its safety, administered it, all without any United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Does the FDA no longer play a part in our safety? The FDA website states: “The FDA must regulate and approve new prescription drugs before they can be sold to the public.” The FDA works with pharmaceutical companies to test and approve what we consume. Do we not need the FDA anymore? Imagine the Federal Aviation Administration no longer requiring tests and approvals before a new aircraft is certified.

And, what about Hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug that was recommended – and prescribed – by doctors to combat the VC? FACT: Hydroxychloroquine is an FDA-approved drug, yet it was shelved while an unapproved VC Vaccine was distributed. Does this make sense? Is this principled?

Aviation safety demands clear thinking, logical applications and, yes, Principles. Aviation people know this, live this every day. The aviation industry’s future depends on careful analysis and, yes, unpopular ideas. Aviation Accident Investigations depend solely on Root Cause analysis to correctly determine unsafe aviation issues. Perhaps some feel that the VC Vaccine is a roll of the dice; an absence of discipline; a false hope; even a from-the-hip reaction to Probable Cause. Some view it as, “Maybe it will fix it, or maybe it will blow up in our faces. Let’s pull the pin and see!” If the Vaccine proves to be not what we were told, was our reaction undisciplined?

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