Airline Safety Requires Constant Dedication

Zeynep Tufekci, New York Times (via Jason Kottke):

Both incidents could have been much worse. And that everyone on both airliners walked away is, indeed, a miracle — but not the kind most people think about. They’re miracles of regulation, training, expertise, effort, constant improvement of infrastructure, as well as professionalism and heroism of the crew.


As the facts come in, there will be more questions as to what went wrong — United Airlines and Alaska Airlines have both found loose bolts on the grounded Boeing airliners. That coast guard plane in Japan was in the wrong place. But progress comes by acknowledging these failures and working to make them even less likely in the future.

One of my all-time favourite series is “Mayday” which, through dramatizations of disaster investigations, shows how necessary it is to learn about every factor contributing to a tragedy. These investigations are rarely shown as blaming anyone, but the relevant authorities still seem to hold parties accountable for their mistakes and, just as important, attempt to prevent similar errors.

Update: Felix Salmon also wrote about this at Axios.