Monday, August 28, 2006


Many of you have probably been hearing about the airplane crash in Lexington, Kentucky. For those of you who haven't, here's the gist of it: The pilot took off on the wrong runway. It was half the length needed for the plane he was flying.

Of course, there were warning signs: There were signs pointing to his correct runway. The runway he was taking off on wasn't lit. It was cracked, and the one he was supposed to go to was resurfaced a week ago.

Additionally, there are protocols to be observed: The pilot has to ask the control tower for permission to take off, which gives them a chance to point out any pilot errors before giving permission.

It also seems likely to me that even more problems will be unearthed before this is over.

Of course, as we all know, human beings are quite fallible. People can and do make mistakes, but by keeping aware of that, we can design systems to minimize the effects of human error. Many of those systems are quite successful. Despite bad examples like this crash, flying is still safe enough for countless flights to take place: Right now, there are probably several planes landing safely after an uneventful trip, save for a kid running up and down an aisle annoying people.

Now, imagine this: Someone proposes that we ditch the entire system, claiming that this crash, along with others, was evidence that the conventional theory of flight is wrong, and that we need to switch to a system where planes are constructed from junkyard parts, never tested, and pilots are free to go willy-nilly on the runways and in the air.

Now you know what I think when an altie whines about malpractice during a discussion about the efficacy of a treatment.


Michael Bains said...

save for a kid running up and down an aisle annoying people.

With the way the TSA and Dubya's Admin keeps playin' up the "Terrorism" boogeyman, I'd not be surprised if that kid gets "held over" at the plane's next stop.

Back on topic: Great example, amigo. MD's may think they "earn" more than they make, but they ARE overworked and they ARE only human, so mistakes Will be made. Insurance Co's and a nasty subset of attorneys are the main beneficiaries of Medical and "Big Pharm" paranoiacs.

Infophile said...

It's kind of funny. Whenever there's a crash like this, you hear about the series of unlikely stupid mistakes that all added together in order to allow it to happen. Some might choose to look at that as evidence of so many people being idiots and screwing up, and use that as evidence to scrap the system. I, on the other hand, point to this as an example of how much the system does to prevent this from happening, and how big an idiot someone must be in order to break it.