Opinion

The Great Debate

A dark and windy night

Miles O’Brien is a pilot, airplane owner and freelance journalist who lives in Manhattan. His blog is located at www.milesobrien.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

A lot of travelers boarding an Airbus today might be thinking twice. After all, yet another Bus is at the bottom of yet another ocean – and another 153 souls have gone west.

Could the European airliners be latter-day versions of the DC-10? That is, a flawed design and thus a relatively dangerous way to fly?

For the entire Airbus airliner fleet (more than 5400 are in service globally), the numbers do not support that conclusion.

In July 2008, Airbus’ bitter rival Boeing released a “Statistical Summary of Commercial Jet Airplane Accidents” from the dawn of the jet age in 1959 through 2007.

The paradox of “simplicity”

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Miles O’Brien is a pilot, airplane owner and freelance journalist who lives in Manhattan. His blog is located at www.milesobrien.com. The opinions expressed are his own.

Air France Flight 447 went down in a giant, dangerous, violent storm that might not have been survivable under any circumstances. But as the Airbus A-330 penetrated that huge system of thunderstorms, sensors, systems and computers on the plane started failing in a rapid cascade that would make any pilot’s head spin – even if he was not in the middle of extreme turbulence flying blind in the night.

The failures likely sealed the fate of the 228 souls sealed inside that thin metal tube as it hurtled through the dark, stormy night – but were they contributing causes with their own roots – or simply the unavoidable outcomes of a decision to fly such a perilous course?

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