Posts tagged ‘airline’


MH370: the simplest explanations are probably the best

18.03.2014

I have followed very little mainstream media coverage of Malaysian Airlines’ flight 370, apart from National Radio. It seems that not paying attention to mainstream media has made me clearer about what might have happened to it.
   All those way-out theories never held any sway for me. Or the idea about tracking cellphones or some of them clicking through to voicemail being a sign that the passengers were alive: don’t most cellphones do this when you are out of range? These just appeared to have been cooked up through sensationalism, by some media outlets wanting to fill air time or pages. The Malaysian government has managed to mess things up even further so there are meta-stories: stories within the story.
   Only two articles made it on to my Facebook wall, since Facebook appears to be the new Digg. The first was an engineer with a Ph.D., entitled, ‘Flight 370 did not explode; it vanished—really? That is your scientific argument?’. This was written three days after the aeroplane disappeared and kept things rather simple: the plane did not just vanish because that is a scientific impossibility. The writer goes on to explain why the black box signal had not been located, rationally and expertly. She believes that the plane could have gone down for an attempted emergency landing.
   The second was posted today on my wall, via Robert Catto. An experienced pilot, Chris Goodfellow, points out some basic facts on his Google Plus account. Goodfellow begins:

A lot of speculation about MH370. Terrorism, hijack, meteors. I cannot believe the analysis on CNN—almost disturbing.

   He obviously shares my concern at how the media have been filling us with water-cooler junk, and proceeds to have a simpler explanation. He continues (sic):

Two days later we hear of reports that Malaysian military radar (which is a primary radar meaning the plane is being tracked by reflection rather than by transponder interrogation response) has tracked the plane on a southwesterly course back across the Malay Peninsula into the straits of Malacca.
   When I heard this I immediately brought up Google Earth and I searched for airports in proximity to the track towards southwest.
   The left turn is the key here. This was a very experienced senior Captain with 18,000 hours. Maybe some of the younger pilots interviewed on CNN didn’t pick up on this left turn. We old pilots were always drilled to always know the closest airport of safe harbor while in cruise. Airports behind us, airports abeam us and airports ahead of us. Always in our head. Always. Because if something happens you don’t want to be thinking what are you going to do—you already know what you are going to do. Instinctively when I saw that left turn with a direct heading I knew he was heading for an airport. Actually he was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi a 13,000 foot strip with an approach over water at night with no obstacles. He did not turn back to Kuala Lampur because he knew he had 8,000 foot ridges to cross. He knew the terrain was friendlier towards Langkawi and also a shorter distance.

   Goodfellow theorizes there was a mid-air fire and the plane did not make it, but that it was heading to Langkawi after the emergency broke out.
   Instinctively, this tragedy seems like a deeply unfortunate mid-air accident, and while these other theories might help families believe their loved ones are alive somewhere, I am sorry to say that I believe the two simplest explanations above. Of course, I would like the truth to come forth earlier so, if these experts are right, these families can commence mourning. Taking them through these unlikely possibilities—a hijacking with the plane descending below radar and landing on some Lost island among them—seems cruel and irresponsible.

PS.: Esquire has a complementary editorial on the mainstream media reporting—which apparently now includes a supernatural possibility. I’ve also head one where MH370 supposedly flew perfectly under another aeroplane, thereby evading detection. I’m delighted not to have entertained either first-hand.—JY

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Posted in internet, media | 3 Comments »


The dystopian future has arrived, and it’s called Ryanair

12.07.2011

Ryanair plane

This was too priceless to share only with my Tumblr readers. It’s an excerpt from a review of Ryanair, sent to my friend Nadine Isler, who has since published (with permission) on her site:

Entering the cabin, I was greeted by a blindingly bright yellow ceiling that would be more at home on the back of a poisonous tree frog or gay banana. Below stretched a farm of sterile blue plastic seats that looked like they were taken straight out of a Smurf porno. As if plastering the overhead lockers in tacky advertising wasn’t enough—we’re talking ‘buy buy buy, free free free, super extra premium gin rum vodka’—they had actually glued the safety information cards to the back of the seats, completing a scene that had all the ambience of a South Auckland brothel.

The whole piece is here, though I am at a loss on what a ‘gay banana’ is.
   Everything I have heard of the airline turns me off, though I have never flown it. I can tolerate some budget concessions, such as having to pay for your meals, but most (negative) stories are along the same lines as the review on Nadine’s site (though not as humorous). The taxes and inconvenience are sufficient turn-offs. As I was raised to believe that good manners should be free, the review indicates that Ryanair skimps on those, too. But you begin thinking what else they have skimped on. Aircraft servicing? Passenger safety? Pilots with sanity?
   I can’t criticize them for outright deception. It’s not as though the marketing tells you that the airline is comfortable when it isn’t. Everything screams budget, so it’s a case of caveat emptor. Naice airlines do not publish calendars with their air hostesses in swimsuits or nothing at all. If they’re willing to objectify their own staff, you’re not in much hope of getting a red carpet. (Meanwhile, this union has some concerns about the airline.)
   The plus side, which I’m sure Ryanair and other low-cost fliers would state, is that people can now get to where they want without too much cost. It wasn’t that long ago that jetting about would necessitate taking out a mortgage. I remember looking at an ad in 1980, where it was considered a “special” for a family to fly return to Hong Kong for NZ$3,000. That’s 1980 dollars, too.
   The Ryanair stories, nevertheless, remind me that the flip side can go too far. How much more toward the dystopian 21st century of last century’s films do we need to go? Is the rich–poor divide now so pronounced that Ryanair can even fioat the idea of standing on your flights, locked in à la Hannibal Lecter? The battery-hen analogy in the review suddenly seems more apt. Let’s make it as undignified as we can for those who didn’t pay for it. Let’s serve Soylent Green on the flight in a few years’ time (with an extra charge, of course).
   I know, I can easily get political from this point, and segue into water ownership or a similar issue. One rule for the rich and one for the poor. It jars with not only my social conscience, but all the ideas I developed practising and (many years ago) teaching design: that no one should go without good stuff.
   So my impressions of Ryanair are all second-hand. Still, they’re enough to keep me hoping that I don’t have to experience them first-hand.

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Posted in business, culture, humour, marketing | 3 Comments »


Air New Zealand acts in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake

22.02.2011

Good on Air New Zealand for ferrying emergency supplies to Christchurch, for its $50 special to and from Christchurch till Friday 8 a.m., and for extra 747 flights to and from the disaster-struck city tomorrow (subject to the airport reopening down there).
   I’ve also learned that there is an extra Wellington–Christchurch A320 service departing 1.45 p.m. Wednesday.
   These are great moves by the airline, for banding together and doing something that we all wished we could do.
   You wouldn’t see this from a foreign-owned airline here—or, I should say, we have not seen any such action from one. Air New Zealand has acted admirably and reminded us just how important it is to have Kiwis running the show.
   The airline’s stock has gone up in my book—that’s the layman’s way of saying I think its brand equity among domestic audiences has increased.

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Posted in branding, business, marketing, New Zealand | No Comments »


The small things spoil the flight

04.02.2010

We might get critical over the upcoming uniforms, but the service on Air New Zealand that I experienced was very good. The staff was brilliant (deserving of whatever award was given to them), and the personal screens remain a lifesaver for in-air boredom. (I was surprised that Lufthansa, an airline I used to enjoy flying, still has not caught up with what must be seven- or eight-year-old technology on any of the aircraft I flew.) Thank goodness, too, that we international travellers did not have to put up with the ghastly nude safety video (which is mostly distracting and not at all helpful).
   But it was not without problems. On the Auckland–Hong Kong leg, I had to ponder the following:

• why were the announcements in English and Mandarin, when most Cantonese-speaking Hong Kong people do not understand Mandarin? (How different are Mandarin and Cantonese? Ask yourself: how different are Danish and Italian? Same idea.) On a flight in 2008, I specifically had to ask the Air New Zealand flight crew to do announcements in the correct dialect for the destination. I managed to get two out of them before they reverted back to Mandarin. (Compare this to Lufthansa, which provided English, German and Cantonese on the Hong Kong–Frankfurt flight.) Now, if I were flying to Beijing or Taipei, I would get the fact that Mandarin was spoken. But to Hong Kong, where you might get stuck-up, proud southerners like me? I remain puzzled, because I have now taken enough flights to know the 2008 experience was not anomalous;
• why did the subtitles on the safety video switch from Chinese to Japanese three-quarters of the way through? (Let’s not even bring up the war on this one);
• why was a Korean film labelled as ‘Chinese’ in the menu, when it clearly was not? Apart from the actors’ names, the credits were clearly in Korean script. Unless Air New Zealand believes ‘Asia’ is one place. (On a related note, I am told that it is impossible to search for flights to New Delhi via the Air New Zealand website: India is not considered an important enough nation.)

   There are enough travellers going between the two countries for this to be very important to Air New Zealand.
   I’ll write to the airline today. I reckon the above needs addressing.

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Posted in business, culture, Hong Kong, New Zealand | No Comments »