No sane pilot should ever say ”this could never happen to me” with regard to a recent accident. So far. This might change in the future when the supply of well trained pilots will be strained. The demand is staggering. Boeings 2018 Pilots and Technician Outlook says aviation is looking at an ”unprecedented” amount of 790.000 pilots during the next two decades. Airbus has another figure of 540.000. The figures might be viewed with some suspicion since it is dependent on vague forecasts. Nevertheless it is fair to assume that an increasing number of inexperienced and insufficiently trained pilots will be piloting increasingly technologically advanced planes across the world. The assumption is based on the fact that this is already happening.
Even though Boeing made a half-assed technical modification and is being severely punished as a company, the blame is shifting. A New York Times article is stating in no uncertain terms that the two latest accidents, causing the famous global grounding, was caused by inexperienced AND insufficiently trained pilots. The many mistakes made in both cockpits, including asking for help from above – which has so far never helped – caused both accidents, and now some pilots might be correct in saying ”this would not happen to me”. The technical problems with the planes were survivable, and should have been handled according to emergency procedures already in effect. That is the reason it took a while to ground the plane, an action caused by public outcry more than anything else, even though necessary modifications might have been time consuming enough to cause a short grounding.
Boeings greatest mistake was to expect that all pilots – even in low-cost airlines and third world airlines – would be perfectly capable of handling the plane with the possible malfunction of the new modification, while at the same time trying to sell the aircraft to customers under the pretense that no extra pilot training was required. That appealed so much to customers around the world in todays cost-cutting competition, making it the best selling aircraft ever with over 5000 planes sold.
Blood money has been discussed, pilot errors have been discussed, as has the trend in the industry after the introduction of budget carriers to cut every corner possible. Hopefully the latest 346 lives lost has not been in vain. Hopefully pilot training will be brought back to previous standard, where pilots were expected – and trained – to handle every conceivable emergency, including disconnecting all failing automation and fly the aircraft manually. Maybe, even though it’s not easily done, it’s time to more carefully evaluate which airline to entrust with ones life. It’s been said before and it’s worth repeating; ”Sitting at 35.000 ft enjoying a very cheap airline fare, without wondering how it became so cheap, might be just as intelligent as in asking for the cheapest surgeon to perform your next by-pass operation.