Thursday, October 25, 2007

Airline misses the point... spins story

Have you heard anything about a Delta Jet which left Chicago Midway airport, and upon take-off, the baggage door flew open and some duffel bags flew out? Yes, there could have been serious risk to loss of life, but I bet you didn't hear it that way. The story that's being carried on local news, and on national media (what little there is) sounds a little like this:

Jet fallout: Girl's dolls lost from plane

'RATHER TRAUMATIC' | Duffel bag fell out of open cargo door

October 25, 2007

Pat Telan regrets talking his 9-year-old daughter Abby Ann into checking a duffel bag containing her favorite dolls at the gate before they boarded an Atlanta-bound flight out of Midway Airport.

The bag fell out of the Delta Connection plane Sunday after a door in the cargo hold opened after takeoff. The plane landed safely, and no one on the ground was injured by the two pieces of luggage that fell out.

One of the bags was found and returned to its owner, but Abby's duffel is still missing. Now she is trying to cope with the loss of some of her closest friends.

What's wrong with this story as it's covered? This situation feels a little like that from "Pulp Fiction" where the cleaner is called in to clean up a mess that the two main characters created. In this case, the mess that's being cleaned up and quietly swept under the rug is the fact that Delta's carelessness caused a cargo bay to fling open during takeoff. How is this not being covered as a Delta blunder in security/maintenance/operations and rather as a human interest piece on a little girl losing her dolly.

There had to be some serious coverage of this issue somewhere... and here it is. This article mentions some interesting points about Delta's failure...
  • Airline inspectors had recently written up the plane, a 70-passenger Bombardier CRJ700, for deferred maintenance on a malfunctioning indicator light on the cargo door, the FAA said
  • The plane did not fly all the way to Atlanta, but rather turned around and landed safely
  • It is extremely rare for a latch to come off during flight, according to the FAA
  • The most frequent cause, according to the FAA of latch failure was ground crew failure

Perhaps we need to analyze the potential effect if a cargo bay flies open during takeoff?
  • Possible loss of cabin pressure leading to a crash and thus loss of life
  • Additional luggage 'fallout' which would rain down on traffic, homes, or unsuspecting people later in the flight
  • Plane flight de-stabilization due to the gaping hole in the bottom of the plane
You'll notice none of the above end well and yet the story isn't being carried as a piece on airline safety and security - but rather as a piece about a little girl who lost her dolly. The cleanup man has done his job, apparently. Personally - I'm appalled.

1 comment:

Mary Kirby said...

I'm curious...do you have any daughters? If this happened to my 3 year old, it would be akin to the sky falling. http://runwaygirl.blogspot.com/

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