The airline industry and I include airport owners in that, make a great deal of money out of us; billions and billions of pounds.
If you have any doubt, just look at Richard Branson, the tax dodging billionaire, who lives on his own island that has zero tax but he is always portrayed as being a true Brit and has been knighted.
The statement that I headlined this post with is absolutely true. Just look at what happened in Tenerife
To partly repeat what I wrote, Tenerife airport was notorious for having serious fog, so much so that the controllers could not see the airplanes and had to rely on what the pilots were saying.
If the climatic issues were not a sufficient reason to have ground radar so that the controllers could track the planes, I really do not know what was.
But, I am sure that after 583 men, women and children lost their lives, still the worst air crash even now 42 years after it happened, they installed ground radar to track where the planes were whilst on the ground.
That is my point. The airline industry consider passengers lives to be cheap, so cheap that they will not spend necessary money until after there has been a major tragedy.
Take the Boeing DC10’s cargo door issue.
They designed the cargo door so that it opened outward so that they could get more cargo in and so that the airlines could make more money, thus making that particular aircraft very attractive to buyers.
But, it is straightforward common sense that you do not have an outward opening door on an aircraft because the door is always fighting a battle with the very high air pressure inside the aircraft against the poor catches that were designed to keep the door in place. Most of the time, they worked but on thankfully a few occasions, they failed.
No other door on the aircraft opened in such a way. All of the passenger doors were designed in such a way that they seated against the plane’s hull, thus ensuring a tight seal.
Take a submarine, where the principals act in reverse. Hatches are designed to press against the hull and are not put on the inside of a submarine.
Did the aircraft designers actually believe that when a cargo door failed, all of the preventive measures that were designed to stop the aircraft part or totally failing were going to work. In such a context, we are talking about nature versus technology and nature will always win and when the doors failed, people died.
So, they were balancing a bit of extra profit against the life of one or more people. When we fly, we entrust our lives to these companies.
The aircraft manufacturers make so much money that when there is a tragedy and they are found to be at fault, the millions of pounds of compensation that they pay out is nothing compared to the billions that they make.
I suppose that is why some people are afraid of flying; because when the companies are designing the planes, they are always keeping one eye on the profit that they will make.
That is why I say that they are reactive. If they spent some of the massive profits that they make on employing bright sparks to see what possible faults there could be on a plane, then in my very humbles opinion, aircraft would be much safer to the high standards of safety that they reflect today.
There are always going to be eventualities for which no amount of testing or planning will cater for, I accept that but, as they say, there is always room for improvement.
Take the Gimli plane crash when, although the plane had run out of fuel, everyone survived thanks to the great skill of the pilot.
The investigators discovered that a fuel conversion had not been done properly by the person refueling the plane and the error was not spotted by the pilots. When something new is being introduced, would it not have been common sense for a form to be produced to have all of the steps, needed to be taken, listed out? Then it was just a question of following the steps and filling in the boxes.
When I was a finance director and something new was introduced, I would prepare a form that could easily be followed and then you would not have any mistakes.
Surely that would have been an obvious approach to take in what was already a highly time pressured environment?
Just a bit of thought, planning and common sense would have averted that near tragedy; wouldn’t it?