That Plane That Crashed Into The Alps

I am an avid fan of aviation. Always have been, always will be. I, like any other boy, wanted to be a pilot but never worked hard enough to get the grades to get into that and not doing military service (which was obligatory in Sweden at the time) kinda ruled that out. So I wanted the next best thing, an air traffic controller. I got as far as the trialouts at Arlanda (Sweden’s biggest airport) but for reasons unknown to me they decided “I didn’t have the proper predisposition for this job. This decision is final and cannot be appealed”. That was the end of that dream and I got into computers instead which worked out pretty nice for me.

But I’m still interested in aviation. And I try to see every episode of “Air Crash Investigation” that I can and do my best to follow it when something happens. The bad side is that it takes months, sometimes several years, from a crash until the investigation can conclude something. Like that Air France plane from Brazil that dropped into the ocean, took them 2 years to find them (good job on that by the way).

And about 3 weeks ago I saw the “Air Crash Investigation Special” on the 1 year anniversary since the disappearence of MH370. In it they through the Sherlockian (I love making up words) method of eliminating everything they know didn’t happen come to the conclusion that one of the pilots, most likely the captain, sent away the co-pilot, locked the door, disabled the transponer and the ACARS (which really only a well trained pilot would know how to do), dropped the air preassure so everyone but him would lose consciousness and then he navigated around radar stations before setting a course for the antarctic. They never had a clue why anyone would do it but that’s the only theory that is NOT disputed by the available data.

And exactly 2 weeks after that airs, a Germanwings plane crashes into the alps killing everyone. I’m not going to say that “I knew it must have been a deliberate thing by a pilot” because I really didn’t. I think it was clear right away it was “human error” because the rate that they were loosing altitude couldn’t have been missed by anyone and the fact that they didn’t turn back or radio anyone suggested that what happened wasn’t a technical glitch. Unlike the Greek plane where everyone lost consciousness when a service engineer had forgotten to reset a switch, this plane crashed right away whereas the Greek plane kept on going for hours. So it couldn’t have been a technical reason for it, it had to have been caused by the human factor which is the case in a surprisingly amount of crashes. But I really didn’t think it was deliberately crashed but very quickly it was clear that that’s what happened. And I have to say I am very surprised that this amount of information have been released this soon. As I said these usually take months or years, this one was a few days. The full investigation, with the proper recommendations to the airline industry and regulatory institutions, will ofcourse take a few months but it’s really rare to see it being cleared up this quickly. And I think that’s a good thing, if not for the world to feel safer flying again (or do we?) then for the victim’s families that already this soon have answers. I like that.

I also can’t help but to feel that this isn’t entirely unrelated to the post about corporate greed in the airline industry that I posted a while back. This was a pilot that had mental issues he delt with but from all official channels was cleared to work. But he always had this cloud of uncertainty hanging over him because of the situation in the airline industry – and remember, the Lufthansa pilots have just been on a strike about their situation so it’s got to be serious for them. Not that I’m justifying his actions but I just want to raise the point that that might have been a small contributing factor that shouldn’t be ignored. I’ve been fortunate enough never to have been unemployed in my entire life, although I’ve been close 3 times and all of those times I’ve been extremely stressed out over it. Once I almost got an ulcer because of it so I think everyone can relate to a persons worry about his employment, especially if you’ve worked hard enough to reach the pilot seat.

Another point here is that I don’t think this is just an issue in aviation. This could just as easily have been a train driver that deliberately drives his train into Paddington station at full speed in rush hour, imagine the death toll on that. And the accident in Spain a few years back when a train driver wanted to challenge how fast he could take a curve proves that there aren’t safeguards there either. Did the train industry decide all of a sudden that there should be two people in the driver seat for trains? No, but they have on planes.

But still – you’re more likely to die on the way to the airport than on the plane!


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