IT might seem insensitive or even inappropriate of me to write this but the immediate reasoning of bad weather bringing down the Air France Jet AF 447 struck me as pre-mediated at best and possibly cynical at worst. This area of the Atlantic is known for powerful climatic activity to trouble the best of pilots. Yet while jets have been lost without immediate conclusion around the world, they have never been lost in this particular area. Jets fly across the Atlantic tens of times a day and have for 70 years now. Of course, a freak accident could easily has caused this but I am curious to see if this is the conclusion.
Too many times recently I have noted that unpredictable or incalculable circumstances are immediately cited by the PR department of the responsible organisation as a flinching reaction. Whether to avoid legal or civil liability at a later date or simply to deflect attention away from the firm and pour into bewildered grief. It’s a standard tactic now of PR firms to control the grief and prevent it from turning into anger at the firm which caused the collapse of Pan AM despite no credible fault of the airline.
The need to protect corporate identity in the eyes of the public is fundamental for airlines. The case of the Air Egypt flight from New York can also be used. The black box indicates the pilot wished to commit suicide by crashing his plane and taking all his passengers. Egypt has always denied this despite the clear voice of the pilot. They deny it to avoid the national embarrassment and the black listing of their planes from the world’s major airports.
The enquiry into this crash won’t deliver its final verdict for a year or two. By that time, the PR department will have earned its money and the director will be working for a private PR firm. Like the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes in London in 2005, the process will start with a deflection from the truth with some facing-saving, plausible alternative followed by a call to wait for the evidence, then a straight-faced denial of the evidence, only to be concluded with a veiled apology. That’s far more 2009 than a flat statement citing the tragedy and let’s hope for the best. I hope I am wrong.