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Whose fault are airport accidents really?

28 March 2012, 21:48
Before I get into the meat and potatoes issue of this post, I'd like to say that the family of the woman who was killed at Ermelo airport has my sincerest condolences.

Yes, this article will attribute blame for incidents like this, BUT those left behind will never share that blame, and they don't deserve that kind of pain. No one does.

Now that we've clarified that, I'd like to look at the issue of blame, and the comments that have been made about this.

First, some people chose to blame the airports, for lack of security.

Now, I don't know about this particular airport, but I have had a lot of experience in the past, working for a security contractor at CTIA, and I know what's gone on there.

First, there was a bar fence. About 2 meters high, with spikes and razor coils on top, made of steel tubing. Robust, hard to climb, and should have done the job.

Except that certain enterprising people took to jacking the bars apart, and slipping through anyway.

More expense followed, fitting a high security mesh panel to the inside of the fence, to stop the 'jacking.'

Mission accomplished, until people started removing razor coils, and climbing the fence.

So another few million was spent installing a special razor coil barrier.

The story is the same at substations - hundreds of thousands of rands spent to secure the sites, but people still break or cut their way in. Of course, at substations, the copper thieves are usually found - extra crispy - in the high voltage yards.

We see it on highways too - where parts of the concrete palisade are removed so that people can stroll across the many lanes of high speed traffic.

Clearly, if there is a fence, it's there to protect people, BUT some people STILL break through them to try their luck.

So it's not the airport's fault.

Then there are claims that they were gathering fire wood. Except, where have you ever seen a tree ON an airport? Never mind near a runway.

Finally, there are people blaming the pilot. Now, I'm no expert, but my hubby is a keen aviation buff, who spends hours flying some kind of russian flight sim (with very expensive joystick thingies and everything.)

According to those in the know, once you're committed to landing or take-off, that's it. There's no brakes, and there's no changing your mind. Had the pilot tried to do anything else, chances are he would have died along with this woman - and very probably taken out other people in the process.

Then I've seen people blaming poverty. Yes, people are poor. Yes, they don't have cars. Neither do I. I walk everywhere. But I don't walk across highways, I don't take short cuts across train lines, and I would never, EVER take a chance on an airport - that's a bit like playing chicken with a truck when you're on a bicycle.

The bottom line is - airports spend millions on fences to keep people safe - if those people then choose to use ladders to ignore the fences, that's their fault - no one else's.

The only alternative would be to have snipers on the perimeter of the airport, taking out kneecaps to save lives.

Sounds a little bit too soviet to me.

So to everyone who doesn't get this - when there's a fence around a dangerous area, try to remember that it's there for YOUR safety - and respect the effort that's being made to keep you safe. Leave the ladder at home, and take a scenic route AROUND the danger.
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