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Instead of being 'just another number' I could order a Personal Title and help support PPRuNe

posted 20th October 2004 18:40           

This will probably turn out to be a simple but awful error. Personally I suspect insufficient runway for the weight and this can obviously happen in several ways. However let’s leave that to the investigation.

At this point one could blame the crew and perhaps the controller then be done with the business. However thankfully we tend to look further these days and examine the deeper issues.
With MK this is going to be some can of worms.

Does the company have a safety culture? Any discussion with the crews will show this to be a joke. They fly long and hard and the company only does what is needed to cosmetically satisfy whoever. You get paid for what you fly. No fly – no pay. Complain too much and someone else gets the trips. This can be very persuading when living as a white in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and trying to keep up a family, education etc. when clearly the state takes pleasure in persecuting you. MK took advantage of all this. Cheap crews with a noose around their necks.

Does the company have a safety department? Sure they called in a few boys from Cathay to fix up the procedures. Procedures count for nothing if the safety culture is not there. It has to start from the top. It has to be sincere. The accident rate shows just how successful this half hearted attempt has been. A large part of the greatly proceduralised fleet is now a charred wreck. However the same hasn’t happened to Cathay. I wonder why. MK just didn’t get it. The only true belief was in the bottom line.

Is there an incident reporting method? Analysis of incident data? I doubt it. The real stories in MKs years of operation are out there. Ask around. They defy belief in some cases. The real tribute to the flying skills of their crews is that there were not more accidents. If someone had kept track of a penalty free incident reporting system, the flags would have been very large and very red.

Was there a Confidential Human Factors system? Who has time for that when there is money to be made? Flying tired, many days away from home, where the wife and kids could be raped, or murdered, where nothing much works and there is often no where else to go, and no other job at all to be had, is a severe strain. “Everyone else in the company handles it so stop whining” Putting a brave face on it however does not mitigate the underlying issues.

The only good thing about this unfortunate affair is that it happened in a country whose authorities can be taken seriously. I wish the first 2 accidents had, then perhaps 8 men would still be alive today. I also hope this flags the semi regulated carriers from Africa that fly over our heads every night. Let them fly in their own corrupt regimes but not over densely populated areas in the civilised world whose authorities have little idea of what is really going on inside the aircraft.

This is so typical of managements that get caught up in the bottom line and blinker themselves to the realities of aviation. So typical of inexperienced companies who arrogantly think that years of aviation experience in these matters is just the stuff of text books and awkward legislators.

Well now we have the bottom line: 7 good men killed, 1 beautiful aircraft written off, 1 ugly investigation and hopefully an expensive law suit to provide for the women and children who now have to go it alone in Zimbabwe.


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