On 25/02/2016, in View from the left seat, by phil
When accidents happen, sensational stories are splashed all over the popular press, ‘someone must be at fault, something must be done,’ shout the headlines. Justice, whatever that may be, is demanded in a form that satisfies the simple man’s sense of public retribution. Unfortunately, this is a very primitive response that does little to help the cause of air safety. The real issues are usually far too complicated for the media and even, sometimes, for many professionals to understand fully.
Air accident investigation is a painstaking process – it takes time. Even after exhaustive analysis, it is often impossible to reach definitive conclusions, and even harder to learn and apply the appropriate lessons.
But when death and injury occur, the misery extends not only to the innocent victims and their families but also to the professionals who bear the responsibility for maintaining a safe operation. Where is the dividing line between malpractice, negligence, a genuine mistake – or – totally unforeseen circumstances? Spare a thought too for these victims of sheer happenstance, who, even when totally blameless, may be left with a hideous sense of guilt, sometimes with tragic results.
Phil’s latest story explores some of these issues.
“Yes, I knew him well – and his wife. I was at school with him.”
Malt whisky, candlelight, cigars, a good dinner, and five men around the table after the ladies had withdrawn. The conversation had been rather more stimulating than usual – Iraq, the Falklands War, did military interventions ever do any good? Some hospital stories (de-identified of course) from the medics, and a fund of intriguing insights into human foibles from our host, the judge, told with wit and relish. He was long retired having served in the High Court, and liked the old-fashioned ways. The others were still working; a surgeon in a big hospital near Heathrow, a local doctor (not mine but a good friend) who had worked in Africa before settling into a quiet country practice near Beaconsfield. A businessman, I can’t remember what in but also a town councillor, a solicitor in a well-known London firm, and me, a pilot with British Airways. Our wives were women to be reckoned with too. The surgeon’s wife taught classics at a leading girls’ school, the doctor’s was an investigative journalist for a national newspaper, the town councillor’s was a vet, though rather too full of the importance of her husband’s position, and the solicitor’s wife worked with mine on various charities.
The conversation had drifted onto the difference between accidents and negligence. Had Maggie’s government been negligent in not foreseeing Argentina’s invasion of the Falklands? When might a surgeon be deemed negligent if a patient died? Was the council negligent in not erecting notices near a weir before a small boy fell in and drowned? When should individuals exercise common sense to avoid obvious danger? What is obvious and what is not?
On 08/02/2016, in Tower chronicles, by lajos
In the unlikely event that someone was missing my writing in 2015, my apologies. I could blame my extremely busy work schedule or my private life for not having had the time to write, but I am afraid I would not be completely truthful. To be perfectly honest, I got a bit too lazy… yes, this is what covers the actual facts best. To make up for having been so remiss, I will try to provide you with a look-back on the year, the way our great politicians have taught us.
So, what has transpired in the life of the Ferihegy control tower in 2015? If I said basically nothing, I would not be far from the truth. This was a year of treading water, something one may consider both good and less good news. That the monumentally idiotic 4NM rule is still with us is something I consider a personal failure of mine. Late November of last your it looked like the end of this incredibly stupid madness (and I am avoiding using the word “rule” on purpose), something that has been the source of untold frustration to the air traffic controllers, due to some strange administrative error, it is still with us. Peculiarly, this particular paragraph had been removed from the amendment proposal in 2014 but in the end all through the years it was not actually removed from the applicable provisions.
The same thing had happened now.