AIR CRASH CONSUMERS

For some reason, (other than the obvious) the media was alive with the Air France A330 drop and all on board no more. There must be some psychology involved in this but I believe that we all love flying, we just fear crashing. Because of that, in general we all dread the news, but half the time I believe more than half the world tune into the news only to see if there is a disaster.

Until the death of Michael Jackson, which also eclipsed the sad demise of the fabulously beautiful Farah Fawcett, the Air France story stayed with us longer than usual. I mostly watch the English version of France 24, which I do like a lot, so I guess their coverage was perhaps more as to be expected, but still the rest held in there.
I am an avid aviation fan and know a fair bit about the ins and outs of the industry and know that air crashes have only care-less sensational value to the media and the stories are dropped as fast the airplanes long before a hungry public ever find the cause. Turkish Airlines very recently, landed in a field short of Schipol (February 2009), but how many of us know what happened? The Wall Street journal followed up a bit, but really nothing to speak of. Altimeter problems and slap happy pilots, quite possibly more in tune with God than their passengers seems to be an interesting channel of um… er..  interest.

Turkish Airlines have cleaned up their act considerably over the past 20 years but one wonders if the media platforms are holding off the ‘pilot error’ bit, forever after a bit of the big advertising spend the Airline is doing at the moment. “I feel like a star’! It is a good campaign as well and not your usual sickly airline stuff, such as we see so often. Many rather pathetic, particularly the Mid and Far East Airlines. What was that Qatar Airways had; ‘Taking you more personally’? Who came up with that inane crap? It is now; “Your 5 star airline’, which is equally inane and wholly unoriginal but I don’t suppose anyone cares. When I used to fly Tristars back in the early 80s, Gulf Air had the line; ‘Your 5 star Tristar’, but it was never used internationally that I know of. Personally I am not interested in silver cutlery or gay cooks prancing up and down the aisle; I want a solid machine, well maintained and a pilot who has had many years flying the thing blindfold.

Likewise, KLM kept pretty quiet about Air France, keeping themselves well out of the media, although they are in fact the same company. Air France’s record is not nearly as clean as KLM, which next to Qantas can boast a pretty neat operation.

Now we have another, but much older Airbus A310 out of Yemen belly flopping into the Indian Ocean in the same month. I have been re-routed to Yemenia Airlines on more than a few occasions in the last decade or so and each time, I flatly refuse to get on board. The last time was a dirty old Boeing 727 plodding the Dubai route. Sod that! Yet I see the Arabs climbing aboard none the wiser and coddled in the ‘God factor’. Whenever their (own) airlines are involved in any mischief the public are strangely most critical yet not so public. Having said that, Middle Eastern Airline management and governments react completely the opposite to Western Airlines in the event of a catastrophe. For example; each time a British Airways plane takes a dive, they spend billions of advertising suddenly. On the contrary, if one of the Far Eastern or Gulf countries drops a plane with massive loss of life, you can be sure it will all be hushed up as it was with each Gulf Air disaster that has taken place over the years. One might have been shot out the sky over Abu Dhabi, or was it a bomb? One was a bad take off in the same place and it was reported that before anyone was allowed off the plane, the authorities painted out the plane’s colours so others (not only media) could not tell who it was. Then the Island of Bahrain’s chronic accident when a string or highly arrogant pilot inexperienced actions led to the loss of almost 150 people. Blame the planes! That is what the developing countries do – always! It’s always someone else; the Americans, the British, (look at Iran now). Never are they to blame individually for anything that happens. The Pilot in the case mentioned was a creep by all accounts and totally out of his depth, but again, near nepotistic or tribal, arrogance and saving face allowed him the bravado to kill everyone and nobody say a thing. In fact, on the contrary, reading the local press, they made him out a hero and slammed Airbus.

I wish there was someone reading this now, someone who had the balls to start a Ralph Nader consumer campaign, perhaps with I.A.T.A..  We are protected when we buy something from a shop, why not when we purchase an airline ticket? We should all be allowed to view the goods before we fly. Make it available ‘ON DISPLAY’, the aircraft maintenance history and the equally important experience of the pilots flying it.

I have been reading a lot about aged pilots being forced to fold up their wings when many still have such a good few years left in them. And I don’t mean the alcoholic ones. My brother is a pilot and a good one at that having done 40 odd years in the front and flown everything from jet trainers to Jumbos. Still sharp, still sound, I trust his granny perfection and annoying questioning implicitly. I’d much rather be sitting down the back with a 40 year veteran up front than some of these hair gelled, Baywatch fantasists that fly now because they were given all opportunity without having to do anything for it. Again, developing countries throw cash around and take any national who asks, sticking them in the simulators and calling them ‘seat of their arse’ pilots in just a few weeks. Few have any scientific qualification, few have any qualifications to speak of at all, merely doing it because they think they are chick magnets and the money is good compared to other jobs in government. I also always worry about the God angle with these guys because no matter how Playboy they come across , they all revert to the book in any emergency, mumbling religious verses instead of reciting the emergency procedures. It is a worry, a big worry! Now  I am interested to see who was flying the Yemen plane.

So does anyone agree? I want to be able to openly and without fear or delaying travel for others; have the pilot of my flight show himself first, not just an announcement when I am already locked on board, I want  him or her to display their credentials before I get stuffed in that tube.  Furthermore, I would like the history of the plane itself on display. If everything is normal and ok, then why should an airline be afraid to document it to the public? All this can be at check-in, where all details are clearly visible and the pilots doing the cat walk for half an hour before they run off to do pre-take off checks.  If we like what we see, we get on board, if we don’t we take another flight. After all, we are paying for the goods, but in this case if they break we can’t take them back.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 1st, 2009 at 5:33 pm and is filed under air crash, Air France. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

 

2 Responses to “AIR CRASH CONSUMERS”

  1. Joseph Locke Says:

    A number of Asian, Arabian and African operators are still using An-12s for short-haul freighter flights. I understand that this is due to the low acquisition and lease costs. But what really is the best performing small freighter for short-haul flights ? In an operating costs perspective, as well as ability to land in short runways ?

  2. Mr Bollix Says:

    I don’t quite understand your thread here Mr. Locke. Maybe this is spam but coincidently disguised as something to do with the post. Yes An-12s and a lot bigger than that in the Antonov range are used extensively in the areas you mention. Are you suggesting that anything Russian is not safe? This could be merely a perception, but personally, from what I have witnessed over the years, you’d never get me on one – ever!
    Built like brick sh*t houses as we say, but all Russian aircraft have this unfortunate rather shabby riveted together look. Well indeed they were riveted but they fly ok. Russian pilots are renowned to be rather ace though.

    Since this post there have been rather a lot of unexplained drops, which seem not to be mechanical and that includes the Polish disaster. If these are confirmed to be pilot error and so many in a row, it epitomizes the technology over skills syndrome. Very dangerous indeed but some of these states will not be told.

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