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Monday, May 14, 2012

SSJ 100 Accident Day 4 Reflections: The Media!

Appearing again on Berita Satu earlier today.
Some media however, prefer to choose "instant experts"
or just plain unconsulted ridicuous stuff!
Saturday was a relatively media-free day. I had some much needed rest and had a weekend work meeting that I had to leave behind slightly due to interview requests.

I complain yet again, it has been a very tiring few days. Apart from work stuff, I had to do some analysis on the accident to look at the question: "Why did he descend?" and "Why did the ATC allowed him to descend?" However, I'll cover the details on this in another blog entry.

I must apologize to 1TV Russia for a very late reply to them on interview request because I had to do the analysis I feel I needed to do.

Today, I find it interesting that BeritaSatu TV called me up again to talk about the SSJ 100 (and a little bit about the accident).

When I told my wife last night of the requests (and she had to put up with me answering media calls over the past few days even at home), she asked, "Has the world really ran out of industry observers to talk to about this?"

Before I could answer, she looked back at the TV screen, when an "instant expert" was talking rubbish on TV. She immediately said, "Oh, well, nevermind..."

The accident has raised an interesting questions amongst local avgeeks (also known as aviation enthusiasts), and my friend who jointly takes care of the @indoflyer twitter account, tweeted:
#indoflyer #sharing, seberapa objektifkah media massa dalam meliput kecelakaan penerbangan? Share your thought with #indoflyer hastag.
Basically meaning, "How objective is mass media on covering air accidents?"

It got me to tweet the following in Indonesian:

@indoflyer #indoflyer objektifitasnya terganggu karena ber-tahun2 pembodohan masyarakat mengenai kecelakaan penerbangan.
Objectivity has been affected by years of the public being duped in statements (official and unofficial) on air accidents.
Yes, we had some of the most ridiculous statements being made up to 5 years ago when the FAA decided to put us as Country Category II and the EUETC decided to place a ban on Indonesian airlines.

I went on.
#indoflyer: Gangguan terbesar dlm mslh berita kecelakaan pesawat: masih banyak kutu busuk yg seneng menyesatkan org dgn berita2 palsu!
The biggest problem is the amount of scumbags that get kicks by duping people with fake news.
Fake news in air accidents is nothing new. Remember the Adam Air 574 crash? Someone leaked fake news to the media and several government agencies, that survivors from the aircraft were found somewhere up in hills, and it turned out that they were survivors from a ferry sinking (how a ferry sinking survivor ends up in the mountains, I don't know!). On this one, we had news that cellphones were contactable, or that the aircraft was found here and there. I even heard one that claimed the plane and survivors were on Mt. Pangrango and accused the SAR teams of murder for refusing to go up Mt. Pangrango!

And then there are photos being circulated of "the crash site", only to show the wing from the Air Blue A321 that crashed near Islamabad a while back. Just now, I found out about pictures of the dead victims being circulated, only to be determined to be a hoax. The origin was a Twitter account that has now been suspended, and that the police are looking into bringing criminal charges to the person starting it all up.

But Indonesian media, has another problem:
#indoflyer: Kurangnya praktisi/pengamat independen yg mengerti penerbangan = kebutuhan informasi dr sumber independen tdk dpt dipenuhi!
The lack of independent observers/practicioners that adequately understand aviation means the (public's) need for information from independent sources cannot be fulfilled.
#indoflyer: utk kecelakaan, kalangan profesi maskapai, operator dan regulator harus menjaga kode etik mengenai info kecelakaan penerbangan.
When talking about accidents, professionals from the airlines, operators (such as airports and ATC) and regulators, must abide by a certain code of ethical conducts when talking about air accidents.
#indoflyer: kode etik & peraturan tempat kerja= membatasi info yg bs disampaikan ke media masa & masyarakat. Sumber independen dibutuhkan!
The code of ethic and workplace rules, limit the information that can be conveyed to the public and mass media. Independent sources are needed!
#indoflyer: krn itu, setiap ada kecelakaan, media kekurangan sumber opini independen yg credible! Hasilnya, "pakar instan" yg pada nongol!
As a result, whenever there is an accident, the media lacks sources of independent and credible opinions. The result is, "instant experts" immediately appear (to which we all hate with a passion)!!!

Then someone tweeted:
@(identity protected) Tunggu investigasi bagusnya pak, cuma black box jangan keluar lah, di indo aja biar jelas
Sir,don't you think it is better to wait for the investigation, but the blackboxes should remain in Indonesia to keep the investigation objective
To which I responded:
#indoflyer menunggu hsl resmi itu baik, tp tdk menjwb kebutuh masyarakat yg ingin tahu & khawatir. Ttpi, spekulasi ngawur jg sgt tdk baik!
Waiting for the investigation is good, but does not answer the public's curiousity and worries/fears. But, ridiculous speculation is also very counter productive.

To which I gave my own case:
#indoflyer: sy ingin tahu knp teman saya meninggal di pesawat tsb tanpa hrs nunggu 1thn, ttp saya tdk ingin diberikan penjelasan asbun!
I want to know why my friend died in that aircraft without having to wait for a year for the answer, but I don't want to be given a stupid answer!
I am sure that MANY would agree with me on this point. Friends and relatives of the dead, do not need a complete answer quickly, but they need some credible answer to their question, relatively quickly. This doesn't mean that they should receive stupid explanation. 

The lack of understanding by some in the media with regards to aviation, is worrying. One of the  most ridiculous debacle was when an Adam Air 737 made a heavy landing in Surabaya and bent its fuselage. Media initially reported correctly that an aircraft made a heavy landing and aircraft damaged (some mentioned it as a minor crash, which is not incorrect either!). But then the airline denied it, even when shown pictures of a 737-300 with a broken back. "It's just bent, it's not damaged." The sad summary is, some bought that story! But then, even when it comes to good news, the local media, believes anything the airline churns out.

Is there hope still? I think so! But when I read an article saying "the airplane crashed because they ran out of fuel" when they quoted the Director General of Civil Aviation, who explained that the aircraft was declared missing and likely to have crashed, when the aircraft was still not found after the aircraft's endurance time had lapsed, and the article concluded, "therefore the aircraft crashed because they ran out of fuel", I feel like the war is lost.

Despite my complaints and whinings in this article, I must remain thankful that I am friends with some of the best (in my opinion) aviation journalist and social media persons in the world, and that sensible mass media still call up for my opinion and insight. No, the war isn't lost yet!


  1. Your post are very interesting. I agree media are looking only for sensation and they don't check facts. I just hope this accident will be explained till the end, but knowing how big impact this crash may be to Russian aviation industry I am worrying that Russian investigators have already someone to blame. My prediction is: pilot + ATC. Hope that Indonesia will defend their ATC controllers. Black boxes should remain in Indonesia, if they will be send out to Russia we will never get to know the truth.

    1. The good news is that the CVR and FDR will remain here for analysis, or sent to another country except for Russia, if needed.

  2. one instant expert diligently sent his press release to media. you should do the same and didn't wait the media contacted you and ready to became a celebrity? *duh*

    1. Nah, am not interested in gaining fame that way!
      And I still avoid the "bloodhound" types from the media. I'll stick to the ones who want to make the effort to remain objective.