The Costa Concordia shipwreck is a highly visible reminder that the latest technology does not guarantee passengers their safety.
The sight of the toppled wreck, its pristine superstructure shining in the winter sun, its funnel almost paralleling the sea, taunts its owners. The word's media swarm like seagulls over a beached whale, and the wreck fills the world's television screens for hours every day, making Costa Concordia's gigantic, helpless hull a semi-permanent monument to whatever mistakes caused this ultimate humiliation in familiar waters and perfect weather.
Until aviation became the global trading system it now is, the maritime world was the main source of many of the world's great dreams of adventure. The fact that the trumpeted claim of the Titanic's owners was that she was unsinkable shows how much risk, at that time, had always been associated with going to sea.
But then aviators took over the swashbuckling role from the mariners. Risk is always a part of romance, and early aviation offered plenty of danger.
Just after the First World War, a young aviator who had joined the insurance industry summed up the risks to those who fly. Capt A.G. Lamplugh used a comparison with the marine world: "Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous, but to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect."
The marine world is being reminded that there is no room for carelessness, incapacity or neglect despite all the defences provided by modern design and technology.
And in this week's issue of Flight International we have our annual reminder of that truth: our review and analysis of global airline accidents in 2011