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Sunday, July 07, 2013

The crash and the cop

Perhaps it's a sign of our cultural debauchery, but when I learned about that horrific crash landing (if we may call it that) in San Francisco, my very first thought was: "How much time will pass before someone comes up with a conspiracy theory to explain this accident?" Shamefully, that question popped into my head even before "How many people died?"

And now my own thoughts about the origin of this crash have begun to take a paranoid turn, based on the video embedded above.

So far, I've seen no other major indicators of hinkiness -- except, of course, for the obvious indicator: What happened to that aircraft was very, very weird. I'm not too impressed by the kind of speculation you can find here and here. We probably should not make too much out of the fact that a chief exec at Facebook was scheduled to be on that flight.

Still, that cop in the video...! The way he acts really bugs me. If nothing else, the video forces us to ask this question: By what right does a police officer prevent a witness from speaking to reporters? Law enforcement is supposed to protect the First Amendment, not abrogate it.

I'm not anti-cop. Those guys do tough jobs, and most police officers deserve our deep respect. On the other hand, the police must operate within limits -- and in recent years, those boundaries have become rather too vague.
This incident is easily explained as pilot error, in what form/exactly how will come out in the NTSB report.

It's an active topic of discussion on the pilot forums, the ILS glidescope was out but a visual approach in perfect conditions with a functioning plane should have been routine, however this plane's landing profile was beyond normal range and should have resulted in a go-around. Came in from too high, too slow, much too late application of power to attempt to correct.

The pilot errors here, as in the Air France crash near Brazil, are sort of shocking

There is some talk about the cultural aspects of Korean/Chinese cockpits, deference to authority/routines, lack of training for visual approaches and over-reliance on automation.

I'm assuming that cop is under instruction to get witnesses in front of the NTSB investigators before they go public, but that did seem odd
The problem is that our public servants have become corporate tools, and the cops follow orders instead of following, say, the laws of the land. If someone wants to control a story and prevent people from talking to the media at a scene, that's what they enforce. It's also too bad the media meekly accepts and normalizes it.

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