The news has recently been filled with stories of the AirAsia plane that went missing near the end of the year 2014.This sample essay written by an Ultius professional writer explores an overview of the case of this missing plane. The essay will broadly be divided into four parts:
- Background information about the event itself
- Recent developments in the case including the discovery of the tail of the missing plane
- The actions taken by relevant stakeholders in response to the event
- An evaluation of these actions and implications of for the future
Background information on AirAsia’s missing flight
AirAsia’s tragic flight is one of the most well documented plane accidents since the Flight 1549 in New York five years earlier. This event would consist of a fairly standard story of a tragic plane crash, followed by investigations to both locate the wreckage and identify what went wrong.
According to Wingfield-Hayes, “Flight QZ8501, from Subraya in Java to Singapore, disappeared on Sunday [December 28]. . . . There were 137 adult passengers, 17 children, and one infant, along with two pilots and five crew, on the plane. The majority of those on board were Indonesian” (paragraphs 12-14)
The plane was traveling northwest across the Java Sea; and 5 minutes after the pilot requested permission to climb at one point, contact with the plane was lost. This was when it was clear to the people involved in monitoring the plane that they had encountered a serious problem.
Weather concerns surrounding the Asian flight
On the basis of the information available thus far, it would seem that the weather played a significant role in causing the event under consideration. The relevant radar data seems to indicate that the pilots of the airplane encountered turbulence and that they attempted to climb to a higher altitude in order to avoid this turbulence.
Normally, turbulence would require the plane to slow down: this would be necessary whether the pilots decided to go straight through the turbulence or whether they decided to climb over it. In the case under consideration, though, the data indicates that the pilots attempted to climb over the turbulence at what Govindasamy has called an “unbelievably steep climb” (paragraph 1). This would have resulted in the plane losing its equilibrium in flight and thus crashing into the ocean.
Pilot’s fear and speed errors
One hypothesis for why this happened is that one or more of the pilots may have panicked due to losing speed readings as a result of ice covering up the relevant panel. This may have resulted in him wanting to simply get out of the situation as quickly as possible, which in turn would have meant that he could have failed to slow down to safe speeds when dealing with the turbulence.
Public reaction to the event may have been especially pronounced due to the fact that the tragedy occurred during the holiday season, which of course is supposed to be a joyful time that people spend with their loved ones. As Wingfield-Hayes has indicated, several cities in Indonesia elected to curb their New Year’s celebrations in light of the event, due to the obvious sensibility that it would be insensitive to celebrate too extravagantly when the nation had just experienced a tragedy and many people were mourning the loss of the loved ones.
Delayed action and recent developments in the missing AirAsia plane
The most recent development regarding the crash of the AirAsia plane under consideration is the discovery of the tail of the plane in the Java Sea. This occurred on the 7th of January. This has been part of a broader effort to both find the wreckage of the plane and to salvage corpses from the ocean so that they can be given proper funerals and family members can find some measure of peace.
Aside from this general objective, though, the discovery of the tail is especially significant because “the jet’s all-important black boxes are located in that part of the aircraft” (Ibrahim, paragraph 1).
The black boxes will contain recorded data of what exactly happened within the cockpit of the plane just prior to the crash. Clearly, this would be very valuable information, and it is generally perceived as crucial for piecing together a narrative of why the event under consideration happened at all. Recovering the black boxes is thus a key specific priority of the investigation under way.
The importance of understanding the crash
There are presumably two reasons why it is important to have a clear account of why the plane crashed. The first would be largely psychological in nature: clearly, many people are concerned and worried about the event, including its implications for their own future travel plans with AirAsia and/or other airlines.
A clear explanation of the event would clearly help alleviate these concerns by showing people why a crash occurred in this specific situation and why it is unlikely to occur again in the future. Moreover, AirAsia itself would need a better understanding of what happened in order to ensure that events such as this one are not repeated in the future.
Failing to learn what caused the crash and fixing the probelm hurts the airline’s image. Airline marketing strives to provide a safe and reliable image for all fliers. This is another way of saying that if one is not entirely sure of what the problem is, then it would naturally be difficult to take efforts to address it.
Stakeholder reactions to AirAsia’s tragedy
In response to the crash of the AirAsia plane, proposals have emerged pertaining to the incorporation of ejectable black boxes into airplanes (see Martell and Lampert). The idea here would that if planes had such black boxes, then in the event of a crash, the black boxes would detach themselves from the planes and float in the ocean, as opposed to remaining with the bodies of the planes and sinking to the bottom of the sea.
This issue is primarily being addressed by the International Civil Aviation Organization; and renewed interest in it has clearly been catalyzed by how difficult it has been to find the black boxes of the downed AirAsia plane currently under consideration. The floating black boxes would emit signals that can be easily detected by radars, which would likewise make it easy to immediately locate the site of the crash.
Floating black box and other plane safety features
In contrast, when the black boxes sink, their capacity to transmit signals is considerably diminished, making it far more difficult to locate the precise spot at which a crash occurred. A main objection to this idea is that it would cost more than the current technology. This would, of course, be counterbalanced by resources saved in the investigation of crashes.
However, in order to be genuinely effective, it would be necessary to outfit all planes with the new technology (since no one knows ahead of time which plane may or may not be more likely to crash); and when this is considered in light of the actual extreme infrequency of plane crashes for any given airline, questions could arise over whether the investment would really be worth it. Safety experts believe this new technology would have prevented some of the 2014 and 2015 Asian airline disasters.
In any event, another key reaction to the event under consideration has been sparked by the information that the plane that crashed was not in fact authorized to fly on the day that it crashed.
As a result of this situation, “Indonesia’s Ministry of Transport has announced a full investigation and suspended Indonesia AirAsia flights between the two cities [Java and Singapore]. It will also check all other airlines operating in the country to make sure they were complying with license agreements” (Stevens, paragraph 3).
Naturally, this investigation has been spurred not only because of the intrinsic importance of honoring license agreements but also because of the thought: if the AirAsia plane had been following the rules on December 28, then it would not have flown; therefore, it would not have crashed; therefore, the people who were on the plane would still be alive today.
This would clearly be enough to add an element of danger to the public’s evaluation of the situation, and the Indonesian investigation of AirAsia could be at least partially understood as a way to pre-empt and/or offset this anger.
Future considerations and AirAsia’s impact on the airline industry
At least some commentators have pointed out that the Indonesian government’s reaction to the AirAsia plane crash has not been adequately motivated by sound reason and has instead represented a primarily emotional and symbolic response to a concrete and empirical problem.
As Bland has written: “Aviation experts have warned that Indonesia’s crackdown on the sector following the crash of AirAsia flight QZ8501 risks undermining the industry while doing little to improve the country’s poor safety standards” (paragraph 1).
The idea here would be that top leadership positions within the Indonesian government primarily took action ass a result of perceived pressure to respond to the situation in a way that the public would perceive as effective, as opposed to being motivated by a genuine desire to make evidence-based improvements regarding airline safety within the nation. Again, has as been mentioned above, this would be logical given the probably political imperative of offsetting public anger in whatever way possible.
That anger itself, however, would probably not be justified and may reflect more the desperate need to find answers and assign responsibility in the wake of tragedy than to genuinely get at the truth of what happened in the situation. For example, one might think: If only AirAsia had followed the rules, the plane would have never crashed.
Addressing the aspect of pilot error
However, this would contain a logical fallacy, insofar as the fact that AirAsia did not follow the rules had no essential causal relation with the fact that the plane crashed. In principle, the plane could have crashed on any other normal day as well; and ultimately, the fact that the plane happened to crash on a day it was not authorized to fly (as opposed to on a day it was) is nothing more than a coincidence.
Thinking that the plane crashed because of non-adherence to regulations would thus amount to a kind of superstitious belief (see Williams). Of course, it would be natural for the average person to think in this way when he is emotional; however, it is less clear whether it is appropriate for national governments to act in response to such sentiments. In addition to reviews of regulations and safety protocols within the airline industry in Indonesia, looking at the behaviors associated with safety issues is required to maintain a safe and efficient crew.
another consequence of the plane crash under consideration is (as has been discussed above) renewed interest in the possibility of equipping planes with ejectable black boxes. Here as well, though, it is unclear whether this proposal is being driven primarily by the emotions, or whether it is based on sound evidence-based reasoning.
For example, when people are desperate for answers about a plane crash, it would be natural to feel that making black boxes more readily locatable should be a key priority for airlines. From a broader perspective, though, an objective cost/benefit analysis may or may not support the implementation of such a policy. In any event, further discussions about this issue could perhaps be expected to continue over the coming times as people cope with the AirAsia plane crash in particular and issues of airline safety in general.
In summary, this essay has sought to develop an overview of the case of the AirAsia plane that recently went missing. The essay began by providing background information about the event and describing recent developments; it proceeded to consider stakeholder reactions to the event; and finally, it evaluated these reactions and reflected on implications for the future.
Ultimately, the AirAsia plane crash raises important questions about the state of the Indonesian airline industry in particular and international airline safety in general. However, the suggestion could perhaps be made that people should strive to pursue these concerns in a more rational way than has been done thus far. In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, primary reactions seem to have been driven more by emotion than by reason.
Want to read another mystery? Check out this expository essay on missing and murdered women in Canada.
Bland, Ben. “Indonesia’s Aviation Sector Crackdown Questioned.” Financial Times. 7 Jan. 2015. Web. 8 Jan. 2015. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/065847ba-962d-11e4-a40b- 00144feabdc0.html#axzz3OFZrqzWX.
Govindasamy, Siva. “AirAsia Plane Made an ‘Unbelievably’ Steep Climb before It Crashed.” Business Insider. 31 De. 2014. Web. 8 Jan. 2015. http://www.businessinsider.com/airasia-plane-made-an-unbeliebly-steep-climb-before-it-crashed-2014-12.
Ibrahim, Achmad. “Tail of Crashed AirAsia Plane Discovered in Java Sea.” Yahoo News. 7 Jan. 2015. Web. 8 Jan. 2015. http://news.yahoo.com/tail-missing-airasia-plane-discovered-java-sea-052606487.html.
Martell, Allison, and Lampert, Allison. “AirAsia Crash Makes Case for Ejectable Black Boxes.” Reuters. 8 Jan. 2015. Web. 8 Jan. 2015. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/08/us-indonesia-plane-blackboxes-analysis-idUSKBN0KH0BX20150108.
Stevens, Andrew. “AirAsia Crash: Airline Wasn’t Licensed to Fly Sunday Route, Say Officials.” CNN. 5 Jan. 2015. Web. 8 Jan. 2015. http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/03/world/airasia-unlicensed/.
Williams, Garrath. “Notes to Kant’s Account of Reason.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2014. Web. 8. Jan. 2015. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-reason/notes.html.
Wingfield-Hayes, Rupert. “AirAsia QZ8501: Two More Bodies Recovered.” BBC. 1 January 2015. Web. 8 Jan. 2015. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30647375.