Sunday, August 07, 2005


As someone who loves all forms of flying i.e. watching birds and watching and travelling in anything that flies.I should remark on how lucky some airline passengers have been this week. Who can forget the miraculous escape of 309 passengers and crew from the Air France Airbus 340 which slid off the end of the runway at Toronto's Pearson airport. Witnessing the incident (along with millions of others) via the CTV/BBC/CNN live feed from a traffic camera. Imagining the horror as we observed explosions and thick black smoke engulfing the aircraft. Little did we realise then how fortunate the passengers were to escape with their lives - due in part, no doubt, to the skill and professionalism of the cabin crew. BUT what of the Captain and First Officer? It seems unfair that the guy in the left seat should take all the blame and shoulder so much responsibility, when the passengers, airlines, ATC etc. all have some responsibility in their need to land at the right airport, at the right time. Thus putting pressure on all Captains to deliver the goods! Who can imagine the pressure the pilots were under to get that plane down safely, thus avoiding lengthy delays to their passengers and others due to fly later. Delays are inconvenient and expensive after all! In this incident the weather obviously played a big part....should the Captain (who has the final say) have landed or aborted and flown to another airport - Montreal was within range? The evidence is suggesting he made a 'long landing' not giving the aircraft time/distance enough to stop within acceptable parameters. What part ATC and technological problems might have played in this drama is less evident. I hope the flight crew will not be made the fall guys for this accident, as it seems they will be. How many of us have to make such important and immediate decisions in our working day. How many of us complain when we are kept waiting for a delayed flight? Who really understands the pressure these flightcrew are under every time they take-off? Of course there is a multi-million dollar lawsuit in the offing, instigated by greedy lawyers and passengers. Personally I would just be pleased to have escaped with my life, without worrying about my bank balance.....after all it was the passengers decision to fly in the first place. They took the risk that inevitably comes with this form of travel.

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