Inaccuracy of Airline Experts

Recently an Airbus A320 flying under Egypt Air, dropped out of the sky somewhere over the Mediterranean Sea. We as humans always seem to want an answer right away with these investigations. The thing to remember is that answers come slowly with these types of investigations. Airplanes can be very difficult to piece back together after crashes, black box data takes time to retrieve, and analysis of what actually happened can take years sometimes. 

In the absence of information, people start to throw out ideas of what happened, many claiming them as fact. Yesterday I was treated to a story from a so called expert in counter terrorism. This person was a graduate from the same school that I attended, and since the school has a lot of clout in the aviation world, graduates seem to be given a mark of expert even if they aren't. When we hear explanations from people touted to be experts, we make a logical error, it is a fallacy called an argument from authority. Just because someone is considered an authority on a subject, doesn't make their claim a true statement.

In this case, the person was blaming a bomb for the downing of the Egypt Air flight. Right now it is so early in the investigation, that making such a claim is complete conjecture and has little evidence to support it. This seems to be a case of when you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail. He is a counter terrorism expert, so to him everything appears to be terrorism. Does this make him wrong? Not necessarily, but it also doesn't make him right.

Seemingly in quick response, the lead investigator has now come out and said that this is not an explosion, but once again it is early on and things may change. Since the argument from the counter terrorism expert was that this was a bomb, he seems to already be wrong if the investigator's information is correct.

I have worked many years in the aviation business, and we all take safety very seriously. There are still mistakes that go uncaught, pilots still screw up, accidents still happen, and passengers sometimes bring things on board they shouldn't. At this point, there is no clear answer to the crash, it could just as easily have been a lithium ion battery kept in the cargo hold where it isn't supposed to be.

My point here is that we should look at all answers objectively and wait for the true cause before speculating and reacting to an answer that likely isn't true. Thousands of flights take to the air every day with no issues. That is something we cannot overlook, this is a single incident that should not keep people from flying. It doesn't make flights unsafe now. I just boarded an A321 returning from South Carolina, I was not worried it was going to fall from the sky. Airplanes have more safety features than you can imagine, so in the meantime lets trust those safety features, since they have been working for many many years prior to this crash, and will continue to work properly for many years to come.

Rocket Scientist, Travel Junkie, and Ruler of the 4th Moon of Omicron Persei 8