The Financial Express
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Man versus machine

| Updated: October 24, 2017 10:35:03

Man versus machine

FOLLOWING the Malaysian Airline's latest air crash, a fascinatingly detailed story was published in an English daily on the subject with a heading: "Why do planes crash?" The story contained descriptions on interactions between the cockpit crew and the array of electro-mechanical instruments around the flyers. In this vital interaction, more often than not, the instrument takes precedence over the pilot's airmanship and judgement. However rare it may be, the instruments too can also malfunction. The crucial issue for pilots here is to determine when to take a decision overriding the instruments. The classical example of such an action that was given in the write-up was of an astute and outstanding civil airline pilot Eric Moody's case, whose airmanship and instant decision overcame the mechanical and equipment failures with the aircraft landing safely.
This writer feels, a "Moody's Medal" should be introduced that may be awarded to such courageous civil airline pilots whose on-the-spot and astute decision in the cockpit saves the aircraft in danger and the lives of passengers and crew. There may be many such unknown and unrecognized examples where the pilot's on-the-spot decision has averted such potential hazards.
This Malaysian Air crash, as far as reports go, was possibly the result of electrical fire in the wiring of the cockpit instruments that filled the cockpit with smoke and not due to any error committed by the pilots. Now that the 'black box' has been found, we shall be able to know about more details about the unfortunate crash. This reminds us of the axiom of 'mind over matter' as to when and where the flight crew may disregard the instruments and use their own judgement and skills. This matter may possibly come up in the forth-coming inquiry on the air crash.

Engr.S.A.Mansoor Dhaka

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