Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Comes a story from the Daily Mail about a terrifying aircraft experience:
A pilot showing off to a young boy in his cockpit ended up almost crashing the airliner, it was claimed yesterday

Passengers said the pilot deliberately rocked the jet from side to side as he showed the child how the controls worked.

Moments later, however, he was forced to throw the Air France plane into a steep climb to get out of the way of another aircraft.
As someone a little bit familiar with the industry I'm here to say there are a few things out of whack about this story. But before proceeding, who isn't reminded of this?

Now, the kid's visit to the cockpit was obviously a no-no. They won't even allow people who work in the business to travel up there since 9/11.

As to the alleged climb of 10,000 ft, sounds rather sensational but it's probably bogus. The captain had already announced they were "coming in for a landing" after the boy left the cockpit and usually these announcements are made near the edge of the "terminal control area", which resides around 12,000 feet most places. It's hard to imagine any scenario where a climb of that nature would be required to avoid another aircraft, matter of fact, such a maneuver might even bring more airplanes into the possible collision picture.

As to the alarms, a system called TCAS resides is all commercial aircraft to give a second line of defense should a controller commit an error, which was perhaps that's what they were referring to.

Finally, the picture accompanying the article is of an Airbus A380 not the much smaller A320 model involved in the incident.

I don't blame the passengers for being upset since as the story alludes, it's possible the crew took their eye off the ball while entertaining the lad, which an investigation would easily reveal. But the media really needs to do a better job of researching these kind of stories rather than pumping out hysteria. And yes I know, that's probably asking too much.

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