A grim truth will out

This article first appeared as a Comment in the 9 July issue of Flight International.

When a long-haul Airbus stalled over the ocean on a June night in 2009, with the loss of hundreds of lives, the accident received relatively little attention.

Because this wasn’t Air France flight 447 to Paris but an ill-fated Yemenia service to Moroni, an airline operating an unfamiliar route to an unfamiliar destination.

Like AF447, the inquiry into the destruction of IY626 began with an underwater hunt for flight recorders. But the proximity of the crash site to the airport suggested that whatever misfortune had befallen the Yemenia A300 would be far less enigmatic than the French A330′s mysterious disappearance in the South Atlantic.

And so IY626 was largely forgotten, except by French investigators who publicly vented their frustration over the dawdling pace of the Comorian probe and might even have been instrumental in ensuring it was properly concluded.

AF447′s unexplained vanishing, the stuff of ghost stories rather than the business of air transport, and the sense of its being a unique event, undoubtedly fuelled the subsequent interest.

But if the Yemenia accident and the findings of the inquiry haven’t attracted the same coverage as AF447, then it’s not for a lack of grim truth or an absence of evidence on which to ask many of the same questions – about the effects of automation, pilot training and flying skills – that were voiced in its wake.



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