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Thread: Airplane Crash Investigation

  1. #1 Airplane Crash Investigation 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    The other night I started watching a marathon session of the TV show "Mayday". I took in 5 hour long episodes and as much as I never want to die in a plane crash, it was fascinating stuff. I'm thinking that piecing together a cause for a crash is probably as difficult as solving a murder, or tougher. I understand that criminal intent has brought down many a plane and sometimes I wonder if airlines, their pilots, ground staff and administration should be held criminally responsible for some incidents.

    It's amazing to find out that something as simple as a metal cap breaking off a hydraulic line in the rudder section to something like the lack of an emergency procedure can bring a plane down. I give credit to airplane accident investigators and their dedication to solving the puzzle. If you watch enough of these re-enactments then it's hard not to surmise (for me at least) that most accidents are somehow associated with a human error somewhere along the line. I mean you can attribute something like mechanical failure to improper manufacturing techniques, bad design, or poor quality servicing. Human errors can include those made by pilot & flight crew, air traffic control and as in one of the cases I saw, a poor business model in which a business manager could overrule the head mechanic.

    I'd be remiss in not mentioning the skills of aircrews that manage to land their crippled aircraft with minimal or no loss of life. There s no substitute for training, experience and knowledge of the aircraft.


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    I tend to watch these. Many, many years ago my then husband used to bring home from work safety bulletins issued by one of the USA transport agencies. These were largely about train accidents though his workplace interest was in fuel, chemicals and gas storage/management. I've always since admired the patient, painstaking, persistent work of these people.


    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    I had read Aviation Week & Space Technology, including (or especially) the articles on crashes (I think the official terminology is "unintended contact with the ground" ), which often included sobering transcripts of the cockpit voice recorders. Although most crashes are due to pilot error, the company is responsible for buying appropriate aircraft, maintaining the aircraft, training the crew, and ensuring that the crew is in condition to fly (no alcohol, no drugs, sufficient sleep, etc).

    The adage that "the captain of the ship is ultimately responsible" for whatever happens appears borne out by the statistics, as well as simply emphasizing personal responsibility by those persons closest to the event. However, it finally dawned on the FAA/NTSB that, for safety sake, the crew must be allowed to exercise a shared responsibility in that they must feel empowered enough to speak up against the captain (or pilot in charge), whether he is unfit before the flight, or is acting or intends to act unwisely during the flight, etc. The investigations were finding that crew members sometimes had, or could have, averted a disaster by questioning or speaking up against the captain.

    You can find similar documentaries on YouTube, the most amazing for me being the 1983 "Gimli Glider" and elsewhere there's an equally amazing 1978 Cessna rescue over the Pacific. Both involved pilots who knew more than how to fly airplanes, just as was the 2009 landing of US Airways 1549 on the Hudson River. Another interesting incident is British Airways Flight 009.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    On one particular episode the pilot was overheard saying that he wished he had a rear view mirror. Has technology caught up with that? Is there a way for aircrews to view the rear, or the parts of the airplane fuselage, that are not visible from the cockpit? Do some planes have cameras strategically placed for cockpit viewing?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Somewhat relevant, though still off topic:

    Not so long ago, Aircraft Safety Protocols were discussed on White Coat Black Art on CBC Radio. Apparently the protocols implemented for aircraft safety are currently being used to encourage a new way of ensuring safer protocols within hospitals. Interestingly, the planned emergency procedures, that Zinjanthropos had mentioned, are one of the larger things that some hope to implant into the medical field. Though Airlines are not perfectly safe, pilots are usually trained to be prepared for any situation - and apparently this is something that the medical field is lacking. At least, that was the gist of what I caught on that particular episode of WCBA.
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    Though Airlines are not perfectly safe, pilots are usually trained to be prepared for any situation - and apparently this is something that the medical field is lacking. At least, that was the gist of what I caught on that particular episode of WCBA.
    My daughter is involved in one of these programs - it started in the US Army. The real issue that doctors and senior nursing staff often enforce or claim or are treated with the same kind of silent deference that has caused so many aircraft accidents.

    The basic idea is that anyone and everyone has a role and responsibility in all aspects of patient care. You can't say that's not my job and walk on by if a patient obviously needs assistance of some sort. Senior staff can't get all huffy and tell people that patients are their responsibility alone and then be unavailable by phone. Patients die when staff feel their hands are tied by medical "ethics" not allowing them to "interfere" in the care of a patient. Registered nurses can't tell cleaning staff they don't know what they're talking about if they bring something to their attention. It takes a lot, a lot, of cultural change to break down the doctor/ nurse barriers, let alone the qualified / unqualified staff barriers.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Though Airlines are not perfectly safe, pilots are usually trained to be prepared for any situation - and apparently this is something that the medical field is lacking. At least, that was the gist of what I caught on that particular episode of WCBA.
    My daughter is involved in one of these programs - it started in the US Army. The real issue that doctors and senior nursing staff often enforce or claim or are treated with the same kind of silent deference that has caused so many aircraft accidents.

    The basic idea is that anyone and everyone has a role and responsibility in all aspects of patient care. You can't say that's not my job and walk on by if a patient obviously needs assistance of some sort. Senior staff can't get all huffy and tell people that patients are their responsibility alone and then be unavailable by phone. Patients die when staff feel their hands are tied by medical "ethics" not allowing them to "interfere" in the care of a patient. Registered nurses can't tell cleaning staff they don't know what they're talking about if they bring something to their attention. It takes a lot, a lot, of cultural change to break down the doctor/ nurse barriers, let alone the qualified / unqualified staff barriers.
    Gee, do you think Psychology is a science? Figuring out what makes people tick can actually help lessen the amount of airplane crashes.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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