Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Air crash shows media weaknesses on crash reporting
Viewers were assured from the horrible start that the crash of a Germanwings jet in the Alps was nothing like five mysterious airliner incidents in the past six years. The wreckage was found in a few hours.
However, hopes that the discovery of the two black boxes would quickly explain what happened were dashed.
Investigators have been unable to retrieve any helpful data from the plane’s cockpit voice recorder. When the second black box was opened it was found the memory card had been dislodged and there was severe damage, the New York Times reported.
The Times quoted a senior French investigator as saying the failure of the pilots to communicate with controllers during its descent was disturbing. It could be that the silence was deliberate. “I don’t like it,” said the French official. So far there has been no indication of terrorism or a hijacking, but the incident was quickly becoming as odd as some of the recent crashes.
Hundreds of technicians and investigators were searching the confetti of what had been an Airbus 320 on Wednesday morning.
The media had put out inaccurate reports that the crew of the Airbus issued a distress message.
It also was reported that the plane descended from 38,000 feet to the crash site at about 6,000 feet in eight minutes.
One pundit said that would have been merciful for the 150 passengers and crew.
In fact, there was no distress single, just as there was none in five commercial airliner crashes in six years.
Now it is being reported by some sources that the descent lasted 18 minutes, according to the Independent. It quoted French aviation officials as saying the last communications from the Airbus came while it was still over the Mediterranean. Whether it was eight, ten or 18, it is unexplainable.
The speculation continued Wednesday with so-called experts saying the crash could have been caused by depressurization, possibly even a cargo door opening such as occurred during the Turkish Airlines DC-10 crash in Paris in 1974. That made the plane unable to fly by cutting control cables.
Journalists’ main concern is that they quote their sources correctly, not whether they know what they are talking about.
It is common for reporters to push sources to say things before they are ready.
On Wednesday it was learned the victims were from many countries, including the U.S., not almost entirely Germany and Spain.
In the past six years, five commercial jets have crashed without issuing distress messages. Some say distress messages are not a priority in an emergency situations but they do provide information and can avoid mid-air collisions. They also give pilots of the malfunctioning aircraft priority.
However, the lack of a distress signal does not indicate there was any pilot error, more likely that it was not possible to send one.