Airplane accidents nowadays seem more “mysticized” than ever. Perhaps its owing to the internet and its rambunctious real-time global conversation.
Airplane accidents are actually droll, nut-and-bolts events that represent a breakdown in a very efficient chain of artificially-designed redundancies. Airplanes crash so rarely that each one is unique and unprecedented in its own special way. Airplane accidents are ultimately solved by research and legwork and painstaking toil as data from the FDR and audio from the CVR are minutely inspected for hints or clues that will help investigators recreate the disrupted chain of events that led to the accident. The disruption is either mechanical, human, or both. Many airplane accidents are caused by faulty equipment which the flight crew, with more time to examine the upset, and under less strenuous circumstances, might have solved and salvaged the plane. But hindsight is 20/20, especially when allocating “blame” for airplane accidents.
In other words, airplane accidents are ultimately the failure of very carefully designed systems of the highest order of efficiency, and unraveling the typical accident is a tedious and protracted process that is the very antithesis to the mysticization of airplane accidents that seems to have accelerated since last year’s crash of Malaysia Air’s flight 370 in South Asia, or the Indian Ocean, or the ‘stans, or Russia…
Airplane accidents have become community bullshit sessions of theory-flinging and awkward politicization.
An airplane accident is a mechanical event with scientific underpinnings. Ultimately, the cause of an accident can be whittled down to a very binary definition of causes but the internet’s nature of opining on anything has turned airplane accidents into wanton fodder of every keyboard aircrash investigator in the world. It’s quite comical.
In the case of Germanwings flight 9525, it may come down to what was inside this man’s head.
In keeping with the mysticization of the tragic incident, it seems everyone has now traded in their keyboard aircrash investigator credentials for those of a keyboard psychologist.
Everyone now has a pet theory of Andreas Lubitz’s motives, and is happy to dispense it to anyone who will listen. The cause of the accident is presumed to be non-mechanical, now. Which leaves investigators picking through the grayish zone of human mental fallibility and capriciousness. Interesting that they will now find an answer in his desktop computer, the very device which is behind the mysticization of airplane accidents to begin with.
Add to the FDR and CVR a new tool for deconstructing airplane accidents: the personal computer. This is where all of a man’s predilections and motives live. We can not get into a man’s head, but we can get into his computer, which is the next best thing.