I have no idea what went wrong today when a British Airways jet crashed short of the runway in London Heathrow. Nobody does at this point, we’ll have to wait for the results of a thorough investigation as will undoubtedly be carried out for this crash like for any other. This is the way the aviation community learns from mistakes all around the world.
So there would be not much to say about this accident, hadn’t I tripped over a statement that BBC News quotes prominently in their online coverage of the events, attributed to David Learmount, Air transport expert:
»BA pilots don’t make error of judgements of that type, especially not at the home base, let alone anywhere else«
This is not the appropriate attitude towards safety and the causes of accidents. In reality, pilot or flight crew error is the primary cause of accidents in aviation. At this point, let me repeat myself, we don’t have the slightest idea what caused this crash, but we know for sure that even BA pilots make errors of judgement, perhaps even of this particular type.
To be fair, according to my experience with the media, this sentence is one short snippet selected by a journalist out of a longer conversation. It may not entirely represent what had been said and our air transport expert may be innocent. However, in the particular way in which it appears on the BBC page, emphasized through page layout and ripped out of its possible context, it is just plain wrong.
- The Man in a Shed points out: »It is worth speculating as to why all BA 777’s and other airline 777s haven’t been grounded given the reported total electrical failure of the aircraft. Perhaps something is known about the cause after all.« I’m afraid he might have wrong expectations about aircraft being grounded. This is not the common reaction to any incident or accident unless it is obvious that there would be a high, immediate danger in not doing so.
- Kevin Anderson criticizes the Times‘ coverage of the events.
- Holly of PlaneBuzz discusses the many ways in which this accident is perplexing. This is exactly why it needs to be investigated.
- Juan Antonio Giner of Innovations in Newspapers noticed a BA ad in the middle of a news report on the accident, and has further comments on the reporting.
- Jon, too, complains about the style of reporting and recommends that we wait for the results of the investigation.