Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Flights of Fancy

For some reason, the media seem to lose whatever collective marbles they possess when it comes to reporting incidents or accidents involving air travel.
Yesterday’s headline in the on-line edition of the Daily Telegraph, now virtually indistinguishable in both layout and content from the Daily Mail (Celebrity Sightings, anyone?) was a fine illustration of journalism at its worst.
Rather than discuss the matter with someone who might know, they chose to interview the self styled explorer and loud mouth, Pen Hadow, whose walk to the North Pole seems to have done little for his ability to read a passenger briefing card.
There must be many retired, experienced airline captains out there (myself, for one) who would be only too pleased to correct the egregious errors of fact perpetrated by reporters and thus foisted on a gullible and innocent public.
Mr. Michael O’Leary, who is not recognised in the industry as bearing much resemblance to Mother Teresa, is perfectly correct in this case, and is rightly concerned that his airline, which performed absolutely correctly in this instance, is being maligned. The crew behaved exactly according to the book.
Mr. Hadow’s claim that “the masks weren’t working” is rubbish. If no oxygen had been flowing, both he and his son would have been in no fit state to make the self-serving statement to the press later.
The lack of passenger announcements is hardly surprising as the Flight Attendants masks have no microphone and, whilst the flight crew do have microphones in their oxygen masks, both crew members are busily occupied and not in much of a position for a chat with the passengers during a precautionary rapid descent.
There is the other factor that it was a Ryanair flight. Whatever its shortcomings, the airline offers a tremendous service with modern aircraft (a more up to date fleet than British Airways) and well trained crews at bargain basement prices. And, horror upon horror, it’s an Irish airline – and a very successful one.
I fly them on a regular basis and have no hesitation in saying that they operate to the highest standards. Once I felt the need to question an approach that I felt had not been performed well. The company not only checked the tapes (all flight parameters are recorded nowadays) but took the trouble to call me back and discuss the procedure.
The public cannot be expected to be conversant with the degree of expertise and professionalism in the industry. It would be a help if the media, instead of attention grabbing headlines, reported soberly, sensibly and factually. It would mean the loss of words such as ‘terror’, ‘plummeting’ and ‘plunging’ along with the stories of hero pilots wrestling with the controls to avoid the school, orphanage or dog’s home, take your pick.
And a few words of praise for the flight crew might not come amiss.
Mr. Hadow advertises himself as a ‘motivational speaker.’
Somehow, I don’t think Mr. O’Leary will be calling on his services in the near future.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's strange how you can make such generalized sweeping statements about someones character without even meeting them.

Shows you lack sensitivity, and are biased in your view.

If one really wanted to write an article that was well balanced, then you would not make personal judgments about Pen Hadow. His comments were relating to the incident, and he is professional enough not to comment in such a personal manner.

You've painted a very black and white picture. Which is far to detached from the reality of nuances.

I would strongly recommend, that in the future that you try to write from a more holistic perspective.

I think it undermines your argument and you have probably done yourself and the industry or Ryanir more damage then good.

10:52 pm  
Anonymous Ferret said...

Who is that anonymous idiot above? What a pile of stinking drivel, obviously not a paid up member of your fan club then Owen.

I have blogged today on the further sensationalism by the eejit press over the defered thrust reverser fault on the Spanair disaster. I would enjoy your thoughts on the matter as an aviator.

http://my.telegraph.co.uk/ferret/blog/2008/08/29/dangerous_sensationalism_once_again

11:52 am  

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