Friday, 7 March 2008

No, no, no (off topic, but MY topic): do not demonize the pilot

Amongst my many failures as a human being – I am Catholic, OK? (lovin’ it, BTW) so I embrace my lifetime in sin - is my rather schizoid fear of flying…

Like most Net-literate people, I have seen *that* video. Lufthansa. Hamburg.

No, no, no! The pilot did exactly what he should have. It was a bad flight – and, yeah, truly I would probably have shat myself if I had been on-board – but it was by no means ‘the one’ (you know, ‘the one’ – the flight all frequent flyers believe is their ‘number up’)

Gusty wind is gusty wind. It sucks. But the video is hugely misleading. The wing *did not* scrap the ground: we’d have body bags it if did.

Not a nice flight, but rest assured what you think is ‘impact smoke’ is just jet-back of runway surface water. Clearance levels were really better than they appear, filmed at that angle (I guesstimate above 5-7 feet: not nice, but not fatal).

Neither pilot nor ATC mis-performed and, in the cockpit, the captain would have yelled “TOGA”* in time.

* TOGA = “Take Off & Go Around”. In one client mandate, a rather infamous... um... actually ‘terrorist’ court case, I listened to the Cockpit Voice Recorders (CVRs) of several fatal air incidents – my fear of flying, as a non-pilot, I grant you ridiculously, started then – it is the ones where they yell “TOGA!!!”, followed by “arrgh, shit” etc., that leave a lifelong mark…

But this whole viral YouTube thing is a good example of how YouTube vid’, from a certain angle, displaces the possession of truth. Something, in a bunch of circumstances, we would do well to remember.

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