What a sad incident, be it suicide by plane or something else. The loss of 150 people on a holiday flight is appalling and senseless, especially when it seems the reason is so, well, indescribable. Hysterical responses, triggered by 24/7 talking heads on Sky, the BBC, Al Jazeera, name another news channel, is exactly what we’ll get for the next few weeks.
I am a pilot; my father was an airline pilot. Pilots are human; they have all the frailties and strengths of their fellow members of Homo sapiens. That is why, ever since the first commercial flight took place early in the last century that institutions (love them or hate them) have been created around the world to ensure that the lives of passengers are given the best chance of survival. It is the same whether we are talking about bus drivers, train drivers, ship’s captains, or any other person that controls a public mode of transport.
Calls for better control of people who hold the lives of others in their hands come about every time a tragedy such as this happens. The reality is that whilst control procedures are in place, there are two factors that cannot be overcome:
1. Human nature/guile
2. Sod’s (Murphy’s) Law
Human nature being what it is, generally deplores weakness, and especially showing it. How many times have we heard things such as ‘he was such a nice boy’, or ‘he/she kept to themselves’, etc. and on it goes. The co-pilot is such a person; in fact pilots tend to be mentally stronger than many others – more self-assured – the call to their particular vocation requires a certain, stronger, perhaps more arrogant psyche. For this reason, combined with the desperation of keeping your pilot’s licence, it is more likely that a pilot is likely and capable of covering up any weakness he or she may sense in themselves.
Secondly, sod’s law states that whatever you might think of, something will happen that circumvents all of this care and attention.
So when you watch the various talking heads on the goggle box, spouting drivel and supposition based on little or no evidence, remember that pilots are human just like you and me and take on the great responsibility of the safe passage of many lives every day they go to work. When a pilot falls off the rails, and sadly this does seem to be the case in this instance, then it is because of the confluence of many pressures and incidents in a normal life that leads to this dreadful result. Relying on humans will, from time to time, cause such dreadful tragedies.
May all the passengers and crew of the Germanwings flight rest in peace, and may all of their family and friends find some sort of acceptance of what has transpired, whatever the cause. There is nothing else to say.