From West Africa to Canada’s Arctic, the conclusion of a two-month wander, a week in the office and now in France for a further two months while GermanWings planes hurtle into mountain sides and disruption on a major scale is caused to Amsterdam airport by a “technical fault in a transformer”.
Yes, a great deal has happened in the two weeks since I last put fingers to typewriter, and while sometimes it gets to a point that I simply block and don’t write a single thought. Not, however, this time.
Let us start with the tragic crash of the GermanWings plane; on March 24th, I suggested in a Facebook posting that we were looking at pilot suicide simply because there appeared to be no other possible explanation for the event short of the most improbable series of independent failures. Now I appear to have been correct, and this is not the first such incident, and sadly, nor will it be the last.
How an airline pilot can be so deeply disturbed that he feels driven to fly his aircraft into a mountain taking 149 innocent lives with him is completely beyond my capacity to contemplate; how a company as technically astute as Lufthansa can have such a person work up within their ranks with no inkling of this ambition is also astonishing, but perhaps indicates more strongly than ever that mental illness is indeed and illness, and its recognition and treatment are extremely difficult.
From the few such suicides reported, and the victims of the Malaysia crash are not included, although they perhaps should be, some 500 people have been slaughtered in this manner. How many could have been prevented had cockpit doors not been made impregnable we will never know, but II fear that more had died because of this security requirement than have been saved.
Flying is, of course, an extremely safe way to travel, and none of these aberrations will change that fact; rogue elements within any industry will cause headlines be they corrupt Japanese nuclear-plant officials or self-centered developers condemning our national institutions to decades of financial struggle.
Accidents happen, and we see today that Schiphol airport, Amsterdam’s global hub, has been affected by a “technical fault” at a substation. While not yet causing direct danger, this mishap will lead to tens of thousands of passengers being stranded, business meetings being delayed, weddings interrupted, concerts cancelled and days of putting life back together again.
It is very easy, particularly in the glow of spending weeks in Sao Tome and Cabo Verde to wonder about technology, its speed and application, our control of its development and whether or not, if we project forward to the period that Artificial Intelligence rules the world and its airwaves, we will be safe.
Or will some malignant hacker inject a malevolent sequence into our daily lives and start to create havoc on a level that we have yet to contemplate.
On a happier note, after three days, I did get my baggage back from The System’s evil maw.