This aviation blog always endeavours to consider the ‘positives’ in aviation, however, on this occasion there is a change in direction.
Once again the broader media is demonstrating its ignorance of aviation matters in the quest for a quick headline. MH370, MH17 and this time it is the discussion of the Germanwings tragedy and the latest information relating to the pilot into the lead up to the fateful flight. A preliminary report is released and then the flood of commentary rolls in like an internet tsunami. Just as when the crash first took place, some of the discussion about Airbus systems and automatic flight is simply incorrect. However, if it is said enough times, retweeted, liked and shared, in the mind of the populous it seemingly evolves from hearsay to fact. And it is not the general public’s fault.
We see this time and again in the wake of aviation tragedies. While the real, qualified investigators are still packing their bags and making their way to the crash site, anyone with an iPhone and a WiFi connection is spreading their ‘expert’ perspective. Misinformation and speculation flashes across the world.
Self-professed ‘experts’ prop themselves in front of cameras and espouse their ‘best guess’ based on anything they can dredge up on Google. Meanwhile, anyone with any true insight into aviation treads with caution and waits for the facts so that ultimately some lessons can hopefully be learned from a tragedy. But unfortunately blank pages don’t sell advertising. By the time the true facts are known and the beneficial debate can begin, the story has ‘gone cold’ for mainstream media.
And while the aviation community may be disgruntled and frustrated, the real impact is on an entirely different audience. First and foremost are the loved ones of those that have been lost. Secondly, the travelling public is saturated with headlines that would scare a bird from flying. Aviation is a proactive industry in terms of safety, but that makes for very dry reading. As a consequence, such positive stories only seem to surface in industry journals where it is virtually a case of preaching to the converted.
It appears that balanced aviation reporting is at crossed purposes with a connected world asking for instantaneous answers. Ultimately the question must be asked whether it is the acceptable to post sensationalised unchecked facts and half-baked details in the aftermath of a human tragedy. Unfortunately it would seem that too often the answer is ‘yes’.