Comment: Twitter as a conduit for how we see aviation safety

This afternoon the news a Qantas A380 suffered an uncontained engine failure after departing Singapore for Sydney caused the Twitterverse to explode, or should I say have an uncontained failure?

That’s what the chatter was: uncontained and a failure. The initial rumour was the aircraft crashed in Indonesia. The Twitterati are not to be blamed for regurgitating that as the rumour originated with the media, who presumably wanted to be first out with it, regardless if it was accurate or not; regardless if hundreds of people had been killed or not.

Once everyone knew there was no crash, the hype continued unabated with users following the aircraft’s movement until it was on the ground at Singapore and the passengers had been re-accommodated.

Yes, this was another recent Qantas engine failure with Rolls-Royce engines (although on a different aircraft). Yes, the Qantas A380 fleet has been grounded. But this is not the first time the fleet has been grounded as a safety precaution. Or the second time.

Yet there are engine failures and other incidents around the world that go unreported. Closer to home, pilot fatigue and training are major safety concerns but out of the public’s eye. I’m not going to open the debate on why the Australian media has a penchant for reporting on Qantas incidents or what the effect of outsourcing aircraft maintenance is.

I pondered on Twitter why there would be little to no reaction if the engine failure was on, say, an Air Astana A320. Here’s one response: “Probs because Air Astana isnt a multi M$ global brand like Qantas. Plus this was on an A380, so its a ‘big deal.’”

Exactly. We don’t care about safety. We care about brands and big, shiny, and expensive toys.

Only this past Tuesday a Lion Air 737 overshot an Indonesian runway with no fatalities. The only comment I saw about that incident was along the lines of: “another day in Indonesia”.

Rather than rushing to cover and discuss a crash that wasn’t a crash, effort should be given to preventing real crashes.


3 Responses to Comment: Twitter as a conduit for how we see aviation safety

  1. Glen Towler November 4, 2010 at 7:18 am #

    How true Will we only care if the crash is huge and people get killed or there is bits of plane all over runway/hillside or a town . I think the mainstream media only talked about so much is because of the rumors spread by twitter of all things

  2. Charter A Jet December 23, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    Its the media!! They blow everything out of proportion. Engine failures occur all the time, and these days are almost a non event.

  3. helicopter to silverstone May 17, 2011 at 2:24 am #

    Yes, anything to do with aviation is a disaster whn the media get a hold of it! Kudos to the crew!

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