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Lost: The Mystery of Flight 447 (2010)

One year on, a full explanation of what might have happened has emerged.

Lost: The Mystery of Flight 447 (2010)

French Spitoons

If you know the aircraft business, you will know that you are far less likely to die from a terrorist attack than choosing to fly on an Airbus instead of a Boeing aircraft. The reason? Fundamentally, the cause is that the company is subsidised by the government to support jobs. They can compete on price because of subsidy rather than quality. Further, half is designed by French teams and half by British. I’ve been present when profound differences in engineering philosophy between Angos and Francs came close to fistfights over design issues. There is also a fundamental difference between Airbus and all other manufacturers. Everyone else assumes the pilots can fly, and build their cockpits to support the human. Airbus cockpits are built around automated control systems that are presumed to ‘know what to do.‘ The pilots are there to monitor things. But what if the French-English software designers guess wrong? This documentary focuses on the loss of an Airbus on its way to France. The black boxes have only recently been found. The French investigating agency is careful to avoid pinning blame on Aircraft failure. France is extreme in Europe with the mix of government policy and business protections. But it had been known and widely accepted just a few weeks after the crash that it was caused by windspeed sensors that froze, rendering the computers blind. Confused, they stalled. I was recommended to this documentary by a reader because it is an fine example of an emerging genre: a matter of simple reporting but cast as a detective. The technique is done well enough here, because they don’t pretend to show us (or worse, re-enact) the actual events in the detective story.

Posted in 2011

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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