Monday, 17 March 2014

Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 - blaming the pilots

It seems that blame for the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 is starting to turn towards the pilots.

This is as expected as it is sad. Whilst all parties undoubtedly want the plane found, they will not necessarily want the blame.

So what do all sides want?
  1. For Boeing, weather, a hijacking or crew error would be their 'best' outcome. They will not want the crash to have been caused - or even initiated or compounded by - a technical failure. It looks as though the 'weather' cause can more or less be rejected, CAT aside.
  2. For Rolls Royce, they will not want a technical failure in their engines or associated systems. To be fair to them, that seems the one thing we can currently discount.
  3. Malaysian Airlines will not want a technical failure caused by bad maintenance, or poor crew training.
  4. The Malaysian government will not want it to be anything that reflects badly on them, for instance terrorists being able to board the plane due to lax security.
The one cause that would least dissatisfy all parties is the lone crazy pilot idea. It's not a technical failure on the plane or engines; it is not a security breach, and not a training error. People can just shrug and ask how they can screen out one man who might go crazy?

Accidents are rarely, if ever, caused by one factor alone. Even in acts of terrorism, there will be failures that allowed or even unwittingly aided the terrorists in their acts. People involved will always try to downgrade the minor causative factors that were their responsibility, and concentrate on the big headline 'cause'. For instance the Air France 447 crash is now seen as pilot error, and rightly so. But the failed pitot tubes that initiated the chain of events are slowly being forgotten.

The 'lone crazy pilot' theory allows everyone to escape with the most face saved.

In the absence of information, the organisations will veer towards blaming the pilots. This has happened in the past, only for a technical failure to be uncovered after other crashes and fatalities. For instance, the Boeing 737 rudder issues.

Remember this when you read about the story, and ask if this story is going the way the various organisations want it to go.

(For clarity, I do not reject any one hyposthesis - aside from the alien kidnapping one! But my money is on a cockpit electrical fire that slowly knocked out various systems and made the plane increasingly unflyable. But even this does not seem to fit all the 'facts' that appear to have become known).