Is It Safe To Fly?
The government heavily regulates aviation. We used to understand that every piece of knowledge gained was written in blood after something went wrong. We are losing that understanding. See if you agree with me as you read along.
On January 5, 2024, an Alaskan Airlines Boeing 737-9 had an explosive decompression when a door plug panel blew out shortly after takeoff.
On January 2, 2024, a Japan Airlines Airbus A350 collided with another plane in a runway incursion accident.
In 2019, there were two Boeing Max crashes; the first was Lion Air in Jakarta, Indonesia, and the second, within weeks, downed an Ethiopian Airplane. Both suffered the same software glitch/feature.
In 2013, an Asiana flight crashed just short of the runway while landing in San Francisco.
In April of 2021, United Airlines announced that “ Racial Quotas will be prioritized over Qualifications in Pilot Hiring.”
Image: X screen grab.
Yes, it is still safe to fly, but our remarkable run of safety may be coming to an end. Why? Some familiar reasons exist, the same we see in too many companies, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and academia. The usual suspects are Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity initiatives, Critical Race Theory, and Environmental, Social, and Governance initiatives currently running rampant nationwide.
Aviation accidents and problems touch on every other aspect of our society, which is being “reinvented” to correct perceived wrongs at the expense of competency, reliability, affordability, and, at times, lives. Aviation has been an “early adopter” of most current woke society imperatives, including zero-emission flying mandates, social promotion, and accepting government regulations, regardless of whether they are intelligent or even doable. The death of meritocracy within the aviation sector is pernicious and expanding to meet Social Justice goals.
Worse, it is nearly impossible to hold anyone accountable today. A fuselage plug fell out of a Boeing jet because someone forgot to put in the bolts that held the plug in place. People missed multiple installation and inspection protocols. Boeing’s Prime, Spirit Aerospace, who built the fuselage barrel, was the immediate culprit, but the fault flowed to Boeing because it was ultimately responsible. Boeing continues to hemorrhage money. As a result of internal culture changes, Boeing has already lost its dominant position against Europe’s Airbus, a position Boeing had held for nearly 100 years.
But there’s more going on than one company, and somebody’s got to say it: Across the aviation industry, from the companies that build the planes to those that maintain and fly them, too many experienced, old white guys in the airline industry are retiring and being replaced by unqualified individuals. The proof for that evaluation is the sheer volume of screw-ups that keep coming like water leaking from a pail. Most failures can be traced to human error. Competency is a dirty word today, with some calling it a dog whistle. It used to be challenging to get hired by an airline. For example, pilot competency used to be a given, but no longer.
The Asiana crash that killed three people was eventually tied to pilots who lacked hand-flying skills and depended too much on automation. The cockpit voice recorder revealed their request for an electronic ILS approach. Sadly, the visual approach they received was more than they could handle.
The Lion Air and Ethiopian crashes were attributed to software problems, which were Boeing’s responsibility. However, other pilots (both in simulators and actual flights) successfully dealt with the same issues that amounted to nothing as serious as a common runaway trim fault and did not crash their airplanes.
We are now dealing with the FAA’s desire to make airplanes idiot-proof. That’s impossible and will only create new failure modes, resulting in more accidents and loss of lives and aircraft.
Speaking of the FAA, why can’t it fill those hundreds of air traffic controller positions? After all, controllers make great money. Is it that they’re turning away the traditional applicants (namely, white men)? Are DEI demands allowing unqualified non-whites and women into controller and pilot roles, where they quickly wash out? Insiders have told me that is the case. Do you doubt the government would graduate incompetent individuals to meet diversity goals? I don’t. It’s true that 30% of graduates never get to control anything, instead being shunted to non-controller positions or low-traffic situations so they won’t kill anybody. Some still get through the system, or there are just empty chairs.
I left the best (worst) for last. The President of United Airlines has mandated that at least 50% of its pilots will be non-white males. I find it incredible that this statement is openly shared with the flying public. The message here is staggering in its intent and hubris. United President Scott Kirby came right out and effectively stated that pilot competency is secondary to skin color and bathroom preferences. Some lawyers will dig up this quote one day when the pilot in some future accident is revealed to be a box-checking hire.
Besides the apparent craziness of ditching competence, ability, and dedication to further the aims of a society on the downhill slope, you have got to ask yourself, can’t everyone see the direction we are going? Especially with something as difficult and unforgiving as flying a plane.
I began piloting planes in 1972. My last plane had better avionics than most jets of that time. I’ve flown many different aircraft, from military to agricultural, as well as general aviation. I learned quickly that the more sophisticated the electronics in the plane, the more likely you could get into a bad situation requiring lots of actual skill to get out again.
Often, the skill of a pilot, mechanic, air traffic controller, or even a regulator deciding what’s safe and what’s not depends on things you don’t learn from a book or on a computer screen. Real-life experience, judgment, and that puckering feeling you get in the seat of your pants from time to time are frequently the only things that will keep you and your passengers alive. But is such an understanding widely shared any longer?
The elites in their private jets or multi-million-dollar yachts find experienced greybeards to fill the cockpits or man the helms. They’re not about to risk their lives with a socially promoted captain! As in other facets of life, the government, business, and social butterflies that are today’s influencers and thought leaders do what is in their best interest, not yours.
More and more of us recognize the blatant double standards prevalent today. That these same people are willing to risk our lives when it comes to aviation safety leads me to believe that some of these people might be crazy enough to think they can actually suspend the laws of physics and gravity, at least when other people’s lives are at stake. Every once in a while, though, we all see how tragically that fantasy works out.
God Bless America.
Author, Businessman, Thinker, and Strategist. Read more about Allan, his background, and his ideas to create a better tomorrow at www.1plus1equals2.com