How to solve a plane crash

The Joint Investigation Team presents the first results of its criminal probe into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Nieuwegein, The Netherlands.     - 

The Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that crashed in July 2014 was shot down by a Russian-made missile, according a Dutch-led team of international investigators.

Christine Negroni was not one of those investigators, but she has been a part of others. She also wrote the new book, "The Crash Detectives: Investigating the World's Most Mysterious Air Disasters."

On starting an investigation:

There are many step ones, let me put it like that…step one is a multi-level, multi-purpose activity but I have to say that the sexy part, the thing that everyone thinks about is the work of the, and I’m using air quotes here, the “tin kickers.” The people who actually go out, find out what they call the four corners of the wreckage site – where is the nose, the tail, the wings, and then sort of work their way in towards how the plane came apart and what was happening at the time that whatever catastrophe happened when it happened.

On the reason the industry investigates airline crashes:

It’s not to let the families know what happened and it’s not to let the lawyers know what happened, it is to prevent this happening again in the future. That’s absolutely the reason for an air crash investigation.

On how the safety of air travel:

Aviation has never been safer because we have essentially conquered most of the problems that emerged in the first century of commercial flight. But now we’re starting into the second century of commercial flight and there’s all sorts of new and different challenges. One of them, the cyber security, the increasingly electronic digital airplane. But then there’s the second, that is the increasingly automated cockpit in which the human does less and the machine does more. And how will we deal with them? I don’t want to be too pessimistic but we’ll deal with them because of disasters. That’s how we learn. So yes, is aviation safe? Yes. Do we have new challenges on our horizon? Absolutely.

Read an excerpt from Negroni's "The Crash Detectives."

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