I’d rather wear the brown undies than the black box
Next week I’m headed to Japan for a two week break. I tell you this not because I think you have any particular interest in my holiday plans, but because I suspect I’m flying on the same Jetstar plane that had a blackout on the way back from Japan a couple of weeks ago.
For those who haven’t heard this story, the Herald-Sun reported today that a Jetstar plane had an instrument blackout during flight from Japan to the Gold Coast last week as it flew through storm clouds. The problems that affected the airspeed indicators on the Jestar Airbus 330-200 were similar to those reported by the Air France pilot of a similar 330-200 before the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean killing all on board.
No sooner had I finished reading this story with a mix of novelty (hey that’s my flight) and horror (oh my God that’s my flight) did I read about the stuff up on a Melbourne to Sydney QANTAS flight.
This particularly zany incident also occurred last week when the QANTAS Boeing 767 got to 700 feet from the ground without the landing gear down. The safe height to have the undercarriage down is usually between 2000 and 1500ft.
According to reports in The Australian today Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigators are looking at the possibility of “a communication breakdown between the first officer and captain about who was lowering the landing gear”.
Now, not being a pilot or an aviation expert it might be a standard game among pilots as to who gets to lower the landing gear: a kind of flying equivalent of calling “shotgun” for the front seat.
Perhaps they were waiting for airhostess to come into the cabin and adjudicate over their obligatory game of scissors, paper, rock for that day’s honour.
However as a mere regular passenger on this particular route I am even aware of the importance of putting down the wheels before landing.
Failure to do so can at best have you landing on the runway on that foam stuff that gives the appearance of an enormous Slip and Slide; and at worst killing absolutely everybody on board and perhaps some on the ground for good measure.
In another incident not too long ago a pilot on another plane noticed that a wheel had fallen off a Virgin Blue plane only moments before it was set to take off. Only last week another wheel of a Virgin Blue flight apparently disintegrated on landing in Melbourne.
Apparently Virgin Blue mechanics couldn’t be reached for comment as they were on school holidays and busy working on Jack’s billycart for the downhill derby.
Such comedy stylings have not been limited to Australian airlines as of late, America’s Northwest Airlines recently got in on the joke.
Two pilots got lost after flying past their destination by about 300 kilometres. According to some reports the two were distracted after having “a heated discussion about airline policy”. I hope it was a discussion about the policy not to get lost while you’re 37,000 feet up in the air with 144 people on board, cause if it was about the size of the beef ragu serving I’m not sure it will appease investigators.
For the record the two have recently had their licenses revoked by US aviation authorities.
And this is the consolation for us helpless passengers when we hear about these incidents. Ultimately in developed countries we’re lucky enough to have quite stringent systems in place that allow us to both expose and investigate such close calls.
Like a lot of people I’m not a great flyer and stories like these today and others don’t do anything for that raw fear we will feel when that plane is taking off.
Overall however you have to be thankful that we have advanced systems in place in this country that mean the worst encounter were ever likely to have will merely require the brown undies rather than the black box.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
@Drag0nista Can't see it bring re l 'ship Cos lots of Ruddites don't back gay marriage (Joel, Bowen) and lot of Gillardians do.
KRudd gives marriage equality folk hope, but odds still against it passing on June 6. http://t.co/QmQffMkSvH
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…