THOUGH AVIATION MOVES QUICKLY, INSTITUTIONAL DECISIONS IN RESPONSE TO ACCIDENTS SHOULD NOT BE SO FLEET

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The tones of these two articles amply demonstrate the divisive and disruptive impact of accidents on the atmosphere surrounding the investigation and the authorities regulating the involved carrier(s). Before any evidence has been examined and in advance of any thoughtful analysis of what really happened, The Nation concludes:

…we need now is to strengthen systems, processes, institutions and structures that will maintain the highest standards at all levels – manpower training, aircraft maintenance, airport facilities, passenger care and cabin services, aircraft boarding processes as well as emergency response and rescue operations.

Oddly, before making this sweeping statement, the editors acknowledged that quick responses tend to be “emotional, publicity-oriented and knee jerk” reactions.

A better perspective on this case, in its current nascent process, is articulated in the second article, written with an AP byline in Lagos, Nigeria. Early in the piece is a most astute quote from Flight Safety Foundation’s President and CEO, Bill Voss, in which he says:

“There’s no question that we know a lot has gone on and I think you have to attribute some of this really good record up until now to that, I don’t know what will come out of the investigation. Were there lapses and oversights? We’ll find out.”

Another objective view was expressed by IATA’s Director General and CEO, Tony Tyler, who noted that throwing out officials, is an angry response to a tragedy; his members, the world’s airlines, have been staunch advocates for competent, independent aviation authorities.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had responded to past criticisms, had adopted significant improvements and had gained international acceptance as a safety regulator. While the vehicles of aviation move swiftly, the decisions as to the probable causes of accidents and as to the appropriate remedial actions, particularly organizational structural alterations, should be made slowly and with due consideration.

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