Air Accident Failure Modes

Interesting summary, prompted by the ongoing Malaysian Airlines loss naturally, but harking back to many previous crashes, including AF447.

” ….technology is so good today that pilots are not really necessary. The technology exists now for an airliner to fly without a pilot from London to Beijing. Today planes hardly ever fail – I can’t think of a [recent] accident caused by engines failing or wings dropping off.”

Sorta. Kinda. The crew are in supervisory command of a complex system, of which they are part – their real value (and risk) is what they are capable of doing when something goes wrong or simply the unexpected happens. The incidental chains of events that lead to some unrecognised or misunderstood piece of information are typified by the Tenerife example, but are in fact typical full stop.

Hence the interest in my agenda here – from Deepwater Horizon to MH370 – the problem is how to decide what to do with (imperfect) knowledge.

[Example – series of twin-engined 737  accidents, including BMI @ Kegworth.

  • Passenger to cabin crew – the right engine’s on fire.
  • Instruments to flight crew – shut-down left engine.]

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