Friday, July 20, 2007

Rush to Judgment

Once again, we witness the spectacle of the authorities and the media in Brazil rushing to assign blame for the horrible crash at Sao Paulo while investigators have only begun to evaluate the evidence.

As I have said, lessons have simply not been learned from the mess and chaos that followed the Sept. 29 crash, when the authorities and their amen chorus in the media fell over one another politicizing and criminalizing an accident before the bodies and the wreckage had even been removed from the Amazon.

Every world aviation authority warns against assigning blame hastily. For one thing, it creates a climate of fear and causes people who might have something useful to say to hold their tongues. It impedes the real investigation by the experts. It acts as a force against reforms. In the case of the Sept. 29 disaster, nothing was subsequently done to address the manifest problems with Brazil's air traffic control system. All of the effort went into assigning criminal blame to individuals who were themselves victims of a broken system and a bureaucracy too complacent, or too corrupt, to take responsibility and fix was what clearly broken.

After Tuesday's disaster in Sao Paulo, the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Associations was the first among the respected world aviation groups to note that the current reaction bears a troubling resemblance to that which occurred after Sept. 29, when efforts began to scapegoat the two American pilots (and ultimately led to also tossing in a few air-traffic controllers for good measure.)

Here is a statement from the Flight Safety Foundation:

"The Flight Safety Foundation strives to improve the quality of aviation safety press coverage around the world.

One thing we would never do is speculate as to the cause of a crash. Unfortunately, during the media frenzy of activity that followed the recent tragedy in Brazil, we were quoted in an AP article saying that the wet runway caused the crash.

This was a misquote. AP acknowledged the error immediately and has corrected thestory.

Here are the points the Flight Safety Foundation has been trying to makeabout this crash:

1. This looks like another runway excursion problem. Runway excursions are a serious safety threat that has received little attention, because until recently, they have not involved many fatalities.

2. In the Gol crash in September and the Sao Paulo crash this week, judges and politicians seem to be driving the safety system in Brazil. Politics and safety do not mix. Civil Aviation regulators must be allowed to act independently and without interference. The politicians need to step back and let the safety professionals do their job before more lives are lost.

Thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight among our respected colleagues.

Bill Voss

President and CEO

Flight Safety Foundation "


1 comment:

PATRICIA M. said...

So, just now, 72 hours after the crash, we hear the words of president Lula. It looks like he realizes how (politically) bad the whole situation is just now. Only now he's saying he'll do something, this means 10 WHOLE MONTHS AFTER THE FIRST CRASH IN THE AMAZON FOREST.

Can you believe that, Mr Sharkey?