Air France Moving Forward: Obfuscating the Issue and Consumer Politics

George’s Point of View

While we are waiting for news of where Air France Flight 447 disappeared to, somewhere in the ocean (and no one can really say with any great specificity anything more specific than somewhere between Rio de Janeiro and Paris France because everywhere they apparently believe it was, they looked, and it wasn’t) Air France is coming out with a report.
An Air France assessment initiated by Chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta in 2009 and performed by an international panel of eight aviation experts dubbed the
Independent Safety Review Team is due to be released Jan 24, 2011.
Its inception was timed, not too surprisingly, six months after the fatal crash, and although officially having nothing to do with the fatal event, its timing alone suggests an optimistic attempt on the part of Air France’s media team to counterbalance the lack of consumer confidence in the airline after they lost a whole plane and 228 lives.
The report will cover training, technical and flight-safety issues, though the not-too-hidden agenda may be to reflect changes made since the crash of Air France Flight 447, (whose wreckage we all know has still not been located.) The report is a beginning of the “New Transparancy” proposed by Air France. There are people who would like to see that transparency extend to some old news, such as what is going on with the search for the wreckage of the worst accident in French aviation history.
The last (02:10) ACARS transmission from Flight 477 contained a set of coordinates indicating the location as 2°59?N 30°35?W officially the last known position, (when the twelve warning messages with the same time code indicated autopilot and auto-thrust system had disengaged, TCAS was in fault mode, and flight mode changed from ‘normal law’ to ‘alternate law’) but one wonders if the instrumentation was already in disagreement at that point, i.e. if that location data could be as faulty as the frozen pitot tubes.
So the report will be out today. The Assessment of Air France training, technical and flight-safety issues is bound to be a big event, but as the media and airline waves these initiatives in the public face, there are a lot of people still staring out to sea, looking for that lost wreckage, who won’t be distracted by any (see-here-look-at-this-news-see-how-much-we-are-improving) sleight of hand.
Posted by George Hatcher on Monday, January 24th, 2011