The Tragedy of Air France 447

Popular Mechanics has the best take on what we now know about AF447, I recommend that you read the whole thing in its entirety. It is a tragedy that need not have happened, but one which did.

I hope that we can take a step back from casting blame around and instead focus on what can be learned so that we might make things safer and, need I say, better in the future.

This paragraph was the scariest for me:

Unlike the control yokes of a Boeing jetliner, the side sticks on an Airbus are “asynchronous”—that is, they move independently. “If the person in the right seat is pulling back on the joystick, the person in the left seat doesn’t feel it,” says Dr. David Esser, a professor of aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “Their stick doesn’t move just because the other one does, unlike the old-fashioned mechanical systems like you find in small planes, where if you turn one, the [other] one turns the same way.” Robert has no idea that, despite their conversation about descending, Bonin has continued to pull back on the side stick.

The importance of providing users feedback on what is going on cannot be discounted. Here, the “simple” change (I have no idea what kind of undertaking it would be to do that) of making sure both of the sticks provide feedback on what the other is doing could have saved the flight.

Do we blame Airbus for this and praise Boeing? Let’s not go that far. Instead, understand how important seemingly little details like this can be.

People need information to make decisions and if they don’t get the right information, they’ll make bad decisions.