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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."


Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Monday, July 21, 2014

MH17 Shot Down...

Taking Aviation Security to a New Level...

Hundreds of emails (and one text) have come through asking me my take on MH17. My take is I'm heartbroken, and pushed back ten paces.

In the post, If I had One Wish for Aviation... I told the world that I planned to make sure another accident would never happen again. But as I observe our changing industry with technology moving full speed forward, combined with human performance,  proficiencies (or lack of), and abilities, in this ever changing world,  I'm beginning to wonder if my wish was an unrealistic dream.

There will always be accidents when technology changes. Looking back at the aviation industry, any time technology introduced a major change accidents occurred. Then we adapted and learned how to deal with the new world. 

With Next Gen building force, and sitting on the horizon, a huge change is about to come again, and with it more challenges. Human factors in our engineering world look at the probability of what might happen first, then they look at the improbable. I have yet to see an airline deal with the improbable in training. They don't take the time or spend the money.

How can we deal with the unexpected if we don't have qualitative data to prove why we must spend the added dollars? Could being proactive mean not flying through war zones? I'm not sure if anyone would drive through a known gang area while a turf war was is process. Why would any airline fly over an area when a war is underway? 

They obviously did not believe in the improbability of being shot down. Besides it's much cheaper to fly direct rather than a circuitous route for safety. Many airlines detoured. Why not Malaysia?

Money will always trump anything. 

This incident hits a new level of emotion for me, as this shooting was the epitome of taking control out of our hands. We think we have control over safety, but do we?  We think we can make a difference, but can we? We do our best, and yet there will be people that will make gross negligent errors, act stupidly, and have complete disregard for human life. 

I have to ask, is this any different than TWA800? Frightening (or ironic) that these two events happened on the same day 18 years apart. Many think the center fuel tank blew up on TWA800, others believe it was a missile. I tend to believe the fuel tank blew up when a missile hit it. We may never know, but we do know that the results were the same. Friends and family members are dead. Just as the results of MH17, loved ones are gone.

Where do we go from here?

We wake up and breathe. We eat, exercise and go through our daily functions. We find something to smile about. We find gratitude for what we have. We adopt the attitude that we can create change for the positive and despite the chaos of the world. We will not adopt an attitude of hatred. Bad things are going to happen in life. They are not acceptable. But if we allow those events change who we are, we have allowed someone else to control our lives. 

I believe we should live in honor of those we lost. Do our best to prevent tragedy in the future. My mission to press forward is still intact, despite the naivete. If I make a dent and stop one event, then I do believe my life was a success. Together we can make a difference.

This weekend I celebrated a grandson's third birthday. We went to Planes Fire and Rescue. One of the lines spoken was this, "You can give up now. But you will never know how many lives you could have saved." So often we ask...

What's the point?

The first time I posed this question I was five years old. I was in the back seat of my mother's car. I couldn't figure out how she knew which way to drive. Those signs meant nothing. My great grandfather had just died. I had no idea what death meant. But I remember vividly wondering why I had to go to kindergarten to learn how to cut and paste when I was going to die anyway. 

These thoughts pass by often. I wonder why I'm doing all I do. I wonder why any of us do what we do. What's the point? 
The point is... this is your life. You can choose to live with joy and happiness, or chose to live hating the world in fear. The choice is really yours. It's mine, too.

How do I feel about MH17? The same way I feel about TWA800, and MH370, the many school shootings, my neighbor having a stroke, and my friend losing her mother, and another losing her husband... it sucks! 
All we can do is go on. Enjoy the moments we have. We never know how long they will last. But if you're reading this, you have today. Make a difference in your world and find the good.

What are your feelings about this incident?


Enjoy the Journey...
XO Karlene

Author of Flight For Control and Flight For Safety,
If you haven't read them...it's time!

42 comments:

  1. My prediction is that you'll see more technology like BAE Systems JetEye (http://bit.ly/1qXgCV4) or Northrup Grumman's Guardian system (http://bit.ly/1p21svh) installed on commercial aircraft that are flown overseas. Sadly I only see the number of these types of incidents increasing as MANPADs and other antiaircraft weapons get into the hands of extremist groups. Far from perfect systems, at least they give some protection as well as notifying the crew of what is happening to allow for some evasive maneuvers.

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    1. I suspect if it is installed, it will be in the interest of making a $$$. I'm just not sure how effective this will be. There will be nuts who will figure out how to bypass technology. Thanks for the links. Definitely interesting research and more information is always appreciated. Thanks so much for the great comment.

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    2. Apart from the installation cost, an evasive maneuver in the crowded sky would create serious problems with the nearby flying other aircrafts. This would not be a well coordinated TCAS RA. And what would be next step? Installing pyrotechnic chaff that distracts missile guidance systems? Let's get real.
      As long as money rules there will be a very little room to find the best defense solution. There will be always better defense, better missile, better defense and so on. Simple you can not produce something (Manpad) and produce another thing to avoid Manpad! In my humble opinion Manpad production must be banned internationally. Just like land mines. Period!

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  2. K,
    Great point: airlines fail to train or take into account the "improbable." But with millions of flight hours every year, the improbable will happen, every month. Just like MH 17 now.

    You hit the nail on the head with, "Would you drive through a gang area during a turf way?" To me, this is the most inexplicable bit. The Russians have murdered in cold blood before--just think Korean Air 007. While Malaysia is no doubt roiling from MH370, and looking to stave off money problems, taking the shortcut over a known war zone is simply inexcusable. It apparently wasn't the only airline doing it, but like a pack of speeding cars, it was the "unlucky one that got nabbed."

    I don't know a single pilot that doesn't talk about TWA 800's "fuel tank exploding" without rolling his/her eyes. Simply nobody in the business believes that malarky.

    So, really, our job in aviation is to minimize the improbable. Risks will always have to be taken, and people will randomly have strokes.

    It sucks, but c'est la vie...

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    1. Thanks for the great comment Eric. If only we could get the bean counters to understand that the improbable will happen. And... I'm off to NextGen testing tomorrow. Part of the research. If you can't beat them...join them...and see what's going on behind the curtain. I'm with you on minimizing the improbable... we have to figure out how.

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  3. A poignant article stirring all sorts of emotions for me as well. I think we'll never be truly safe and our roles as pilots is to be prepared, always be vigilant for threats, and lead our crew with always safety first as a goal. Plan for the best, prepare for the worst.

    Like you said, money rules every decision made today - even in the airline industry where you'd think safety was primordial. But we like to think that we're invulnerable. That we can beat the odds.

    I think we are paid to think differently. Even though our bosses or owners may think "bad luck" may never touch them, WE, the pilots, the crews, are paid and trusted to think and act just the opposite. Bad luck may happen, but is it really bad luck? MH17 made the decision to go over a war zone. Yes it is tragic they fell victim to that missile, but their was a chain of decisions that brought them there.

    Thanks for sharing Karlene I always love your wisdom!

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    1. Jean, I think that it hits those most that are beating their heads against the wall, writing books like you are, training, trying to make a difference....and then blown away, figuratively, with something like this. It sure makes you take a step back and wonder... what for. But we have to breathe deep and realize this doesn't mean give up... just more work to be done. Do what you can, have faith on the rest. Thanks so much for your comment!

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  4. Irony: the destroyed 9M-MRD just turned 17.

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  5. You know, after the initial differing catalyst - frayed wires in a dangerously vaporized center fuel tank and missile strike for TWA 800 and MH17, respectively - the people onboard would not know the difference. Those that survived the initial event and were conscious suffered untold horror. When the story the broke, I just couldn't believe it.

    It's unacceptable - even as the conflict that produced this horrific event has cost more lives still.

    I wrote this comment on an AP article (http://bigstory.ap.org/article/airlines-symbolize-nations-hopes-or-reflect-shame#comment-1494169734):

    In the liveries of the "national" airlines, airliners are the ultimate everyday symbol of peace, and ultimate expression of yearning to interact with the world in the most noble fashion, whether the aircraft carries the symbols of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Lufthansa, Korean Air or Iran Air. They must never be targets of war, or used as weapons of war.

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    1. Paulo, you are so right! Our airliners are a symbol of peace and should not be touched. Just as our children and civilians...and the day prior to this the world saw those four little boys playing on a beach. These events strike a chord of anger in all of us. Life is sacred, and we should feel safe on our airliners. Thank you so much for the comment!

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  6. By the way, Human Factors is the cornerstone of future aviation safety in a world of rapid technology progress and ever more reliable systems. HF is key. The future is already here.

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    1. The future is here. And it's changing as quickly as we can blink. My first course with ERAU is Human Factors... as I agree with you! Starting September 7th. Stay tuned!

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  7. MH17 is not just an aviation distaster, but an act of war if you ask me. What "right" did they have to fire a missile up in an area with commercial airliners? No right - of course.

    MH17 was flying at FL330. It was at the time of the accident "ok" to fly above FL320.

    2 months ago, I flew with Singapore Airlines flight 351 from Copenhagen to Singapore. We flew almost the exact same routing as MH17. I even took a picture of the IFE-screen as we passed over Eastern Ukraine. Jokingly, I made a comment that "even up here, it's pretty turbulent" - referencing the ongoing conflict.

    It could have been any airline. Any airplane. But I think many people link this to Malaysia Airlines because of MH370. And in many ways, they are right in doing so. But in this case of MH17, the airline couldn't have done much differently, except from flying another route. They are simply just a victim, in my opinion.

    SQ351 (CPH-SIN) - the same flight that I was on 2 months ago - was just 25 km away from MH17 when it was shot down. It was just a coincidence that it was Malaysia Airlines, yet again, that was affected by this tragedy.

    My thoughts are with the families and friends of those who died in this tragic accident.

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    1. Cecilie, this gives me a chill to think you were over that spot...and thinking of what was going on below. And to imagine if it had been your flight, is so hard for me to fathom. I think of all the scientists and the future that was on that plane, and I put you in that category. A devastation to the world if you had been taken.
      The Malaysia flights... was nothing other than a coincidence. I completely agree. Coincidence for sure.
      But for now, all I can say is thank God it wasn't your plane! Thank you so much for the comment...and so glad you are here to share it.

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  8. Politics is everywhere. Divergence between agreements may cause tribal conflicts.

    Your mission is to secure each flight you operate. My mission is to consolidate an entire industry in a sustainable manner.

    Consolidation strongly involves Politics. There will always be the radical, the liberal, and the undecided.

    We don't need to invest on anti-missile equipment to secure airspaces. That is due to a simple fact: the geoeconomic aspect of today's world is changing. We are in a phase of transition, and in this phase there are many insecurities and undefined political and economic positions between and inside nations.

    Let's not forget all of this is controlled by humans, and we are little more than 7 billion. Each country has its own elections (in Brazil we run elections every 4 years), and we conclude there is a circulation of ideas and philosophies.

    Where am I going:
    It would be useless to keep investing capital to secure airspaces against war. MH17 was flying a very important flight path, connecting Eurasia. 5 aircraft were flying the same route minutes before MH17.

    But I'm not suggesting the target was really a Malaysia Airlines plane. Or it was. People shoot despicably. The world knows MH370 disappeared. Let's be stupid and shoot another MH.

    Safety will never be an absolute concept. Perhaps not now, and not in aviation. You were trained for airworthiness and safety. Pilots must constantly improve this idea.

    It will take pretty long to consolidate aviation. And it is unsure if we can really consolidate, even though there is a solution for every problem (even if requires you to redefine an entire model of idea).

    And yes, Malaysia Airlines has lots stakeholders, investors, consumer loyalty and trust. Unfortunately.

    Such disaster should be considered as an international threat.

    And yes, this is a vague comment. It is so complex it would take ages to write about it. I'm talking about a big book!

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    1. This is an excellent comment Alex! I tend to agree....we don't need anti-missile equipment. But unfortunately if someone can make a dollar from fear, they will try. And your writing is incredible. I'm thinking you should write the book. Someone needs too. Thanks for a great comment!

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Checking the security notices about the Ukraine available to pilots at my own airline I found nothing other than the prohibited area around the Crimea area. MH 17 and other flights operating through that area were well north of that area.

    The usual threat to aircraft is from the smaller shoulder-launch type missiles - MANPADS. Their altitude range is limited10, maybe 16,000 feet above the ground (but consider mountainside launching too). Everyone thought that there was some safely in flying well above the range of these weapons—and there is—from those types of weapons.

    The question in my mind is who knew, or should have known, about the presence and threat of the more capable truck-launched radar-guided missiles with altitude ranges reported to be up to 72,000 feet. The Russian separatists claim not to have them, and at this point there appears to be evidence of them coming from, and going back to, Russia. Who should have known that the rest of the Ukrainian border region was a potential threat to commercial aviation? Certainly the Ukraine and/or Russia should have known more than anyone else of the potential danger.

    There are systems available to help protect aircraft against some missiles. El Al has some, others have been tested. They are automatic systems that detect infra-red guided missiles and direct powerful laser beams at them to defeat their guidance systems. Those types of systems are certainly appropriate for high tension areas, and other areas where terrorist elements may want to target aircraft—which could be just about anywhere.

    But the type of missile that struck MH17 was in a completely different class. A Mach 3 radar guided missile that directs itself not toward the engine heat, but the center of mass of the airplane. Defense systems for this type consist of deploying flares and chaff, followed by extreme maneuvering by the fighter jet they are aimed at.. But even that is a difficult proposal. At Mach 3, it's about 10 seconds from launch to impact. Airline cockpits have very limited visibility especially compared to fighter jets with bubble canopies.
    The deployment of chaff gives a few seconds to divert the attention of the missile's guidance system. But modern missiles have software that defeats those measures. Asking an airliner to take aggressive evasive actions is like asking an elephant to dodge a bullet designed to take out a gazelle. That capability simply does not exist. With the thrust, performance envelope, stall and Mach margin, and maneuverability of the airplane, that just isn't possible.

    Hopefully, in light of this tragedy, areas of conflict will be more closely scrutinized as to the potential of high altitude missiles that may be launched against an airliner—even if by mistake, and avoided by wide margins. Does ISIS have them in Iraq?What happened to the surface to air missiles that Sadam had? Hamas in Gaza? Pakistan or Afghanistan?

    I'm not so quick to say that airlines were just being cheap by not going around certain areas (like the whole of Ukraine, maybe?). We spend time and money to go around turbulence—the meteorological type. But, like turbulence the hardest part about avoiding this threat is figuring out it's there.

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    1. Bill, Thanks for the great comment. I love the visual of the bullet and the elephant.

      I think it's more than figuring out the threat is there... everyone knew it was. I think the threat was not "believing" that they would take out a commercial plane. We already knew they were taking out military aircraft.

      We have to ask why some airlines avoided, and others did not. Only they can say...But I think it was more of disbelief than anything.

      Weather is a very real threat. We can see it, we avoid it. Attacks from below we can't see it. There are many schools of thought... if you don't see it, it doesn't exist. Just ask a two year old that covers their eyes and thinks you can't see them.

      And yet maybe they were going on the faith... nobody would shoot down an airliner. How could they?

      Or perhaps the gambling men... what are the odds?

      For all the reasons... it's just dang sad for all those directly involved. And for the rest of the world too.

      Thank you so much for this comment!

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  10. I think your wish remains safe. What happened wasn't really an accident, it was a willful act.

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    1. Either way it takes an element of control out of our hands. Thanks for your comment.

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  11. Allow me to share 3 clichés:

    It only takes two things to fly, airspeed and money.

    Forget all that stuff about thrust and drag, lift and gravity, an airplane flies because of money.

    Do you see that propeller? Well, everything behind it revolves around money.

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    1. Lol... I agree. And those cliche's are so true.

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  12. Dear Captain Karlene,

    I write here not as an aviation expert, not as a pilot but simply as an ordinary Malaysian citizen who wishes to express herself about the great sorrow that the recent MH17 tragedy has brought upon us. When I first learned about MAS' tweet that it had lost contact with another one of its planes last Thursday, my heart sunk. I couldn't believe that barely 4 months since MH370 disappeared, the national carrier was again struck with tragedy and the country thrusted unceremoniously into the global spotlight. Nothing could have prepared me though for what I was about to learn about the flight, that it was shot down with missiles and that nobody survived. It was heart and gut-wrenching, and for Malaysia, it was a double whammy for sure. We mourn the loss of our friends, colleagues, schoolmates - as well as friends from other countries who had trusted the MAS brand enough to board the flight.

    I cannot comment much about the flight path that MH17 took to reach its destination as I am made to understand that it was declared safe by the relevant authorities and that many other airlines also used it. What happened has happened - as we mourn and grieve for those we've lost, we need to honour them by cherishing our short time on Earth and valuing every precious moment we have with our loved ones.

    But for now what I wish most in the world for MH17 is that the victims' families can repatriate their loved ones as soon as possible so that they can be buried with the dignity and respect that they deserve. Learning that their bodies were still out in the open fields for 3 days was difficult to digest, especially for Muslims whose burial rites are more strict in terms of time to react. As I was writing this the Malaysian Prime Minister Mr. Najib Razak is drawing agreements with the leader of crash site for the handover of the bodies, black boxes and guarantee of security for investigators at ground zero. I hope that the negotiation process goes smoothly so that we can start to pick up the pieces and move on with our lives.

    It will take some time to know what actually happened, but meanwhile Malaysia appreciates all the support that it has been receiving from other countries with regards to both this year's losses, asset and human-wise. If anything these tragedies have brought us closer together and I can only hope and pray that no other airline will have to face the horrors that MAS did this unfortunate year. God bless and RIP, MH17.

    Read also:
    Letters of Love to Malaysia Airlines - https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.509470215820975.1073742088.287081284726537&type=1
    (beautiful tributes from other airlines around the world - proof that love, peace and soliditary still triumph in this world)

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    1. Fairy, This is a beautiful comment filled with compassion. One thing we forget about is culture differences with burial. And so many people from many cultures involved. Thank you so much for sharing the link too.
      Love. Peace. Solidarity. Together the world can make that happen!

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  13. Karlene,
    As always, great post! These kinds of tragedies never make sense and as survivors we endure. Some days it's a blessing, other days it's a curse.
    You give wise counsel to be thankful what we have and what we can do since our lives go on.

    Senseless death is always jolting to our psyche, I think that must be part of what makes us uniquely human - we actually care about each other.

    Keep on caring everyone!
    Brent

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    1. Brent, you hit it there... the senseless. We do care. And when something like this happens, I also see a renewed spirit in human goodness too.

      Thank you for the great comment!

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  14. My thoughts on this incident... Well whether the pilots were aware of the area as being 'hot' or not. as a society we must all take more responsibility for ourselves. So while in the cockpit the pilots make the best decision with regards to the flight, and to heck what their airline has to say on any matter, their the ones up there not the company(not an easy thing at all times when you want to keep your job) & more importantly, if passengers stop going after 'the cheapest flight', airlines will be forced to stop sacrificing safety for bottom-line.

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    1. This is an interesting viewpoint. They may not have known it was hot. We fly all over the world, and the assumption is we are filed only through safe airspace. Had I been watching the news and saw military planes were shot down in that area, I would questioned it myself. But here's the point...

      But that decision is made during flight planning. If we did not like the route for any reason we discuss with dispatch as the longer route around would take more fuel. He says, "No. The airspace is clear." "But I don't feel comfortable." Then they would call in a reserve pilot and send me home. It would have taken all pilots to say no, to make that happen.

      It will be interesting to listen to the CVR and see what the pilots were saying during that portion of the flight. I would bet they felt uncomfortable and commented ... "what if."

      Thanks for the comment and the great thoughts!

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  15. Karlene,

    Great article and I agree with all your thoughts. But would like to add this. Many airlines were not deviating around the area. They were flying directly through it as flight planned by Operations. I spoke to a friend on the 777 at my airline, he said they went through that same area just last week, as scheduled and planned. There were no warnings, NOTAMs or other indicators that they were in danger. This friend is as competent a pilot as anyone I have ever known, he is not a knucklehead.

    Sometimes, you can be legal and legally dead at the same time. When it is your time to go, you go. If it is the Captain’s time, it might be your time too. It sucks but it happens so don’t live scared because we are all on the clock and it is ticking. No wasted days because you don’t get a do over.

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    1. I think the only way to have known was to have watched the news and hear about them shooting military aircraft... knowing where...and questioning. There is something to be said about flying night freight... the bad guys 33,000 feel below can't see you in the dark.

      If you have the little white body that says it's your turn to walk and you don't look for the car about to run the light... you might be right. Dead right.

      Thanks for the comment!

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  16. Hi Karlene, I have read both your books and enjoyed them and I think you have lots of talent in different areas but I cannot agree with your comment about a renewed spirit in human goodness.
    Mankind has learn t nothing except how to kill in a more sophisticated way.
    As fas as MH17 goes, how can anyone blame the drunken russian goons who have a combined IQ of a child. Look how they looted the sites already and how they disrespected the poor souls.
    Trade sanctions don't even make dent with the Russian hierarchy
    but like Iraq we have to make someone accountable for this tragedy.
    Civilian pilots should know better than fly through hot spots regardless of what ATC or the companies say.
    It takes a lot of work to dodge SAMS. Civilian aircraft are not capable nor should they be. so please fly around these goons
    I'm from Australia and very angry how its all been treated




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    1. Kevin, Thank you for the great comment. Yes...that brain capacity (or lack of) is a good point. Don't put matches in kids hands or something will burn that shouldn't.

      I'm all for flying around the target zones! Also... Yay, you read my books. If you haven't done so yet, leave a comment on Amazon and enter the contest!
      Thank you so much!!!
      http://karlenepetitt.blogspot.com/p/win-nwa-b747.html

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  17. Hi Kaylene,
    Lots of great comments here.
    I think as humans we're all trying to make sense of an act for which there is no making sense. As we've heard many other aircraft flew through the area; clearly airline operators didn't have that possibility on their radar (pun not really intended). Sadly, now they do.

    As a human factors trainer, today I trained cabin crew in unexpected events. Well, this one is about as unexpected as you can get. How do we even begin to train for this?
    I don't believe it signals a new era where any plane is a target, and I hope that's not how it will be promoted because that's a fearful world that is ripe for manipulation. Is this too optimistic a hope? Perhaps.

    My thoughts go out to the families and victims. I hope some good can come from this but at the moment I struggle to see how that's possible. Stay safe all x

    @HHTDolley

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    1. Thank you so much for the comment. Yes, human nature to try and make sense of this. But it makes no sense, and this one is just not possible. My heart goes out to the families too. And it's hard to see the good. Maybe the compassion of the rest of the world coming together?

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  18. Congratulations to the Delta fight crew on making the decision to
    divert the landing at Israel due to the instability there.
    Well done guys.

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    1. Thanks Kevin! On behalf of the crew... you're welcome! :)

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  19. "They obviously did not believe in the improbability of being shot down. Besides it's much cheaper to fly direct rather than a circuitous route for safety. Many airlines detoured. Why not Malaysia?

    Money will always trump anything"


    On July 17 only a few airlines avoided eastern Ukraine but the majority were still using the airspace. If Ukraine lost a military aircraft at 21,000 ft then surely they must have known this wasn't a MANPAD or Stinger missile. It was a complicated surface-to-air missile that took their military AN26 down at 21,000 feet. So that having been said, who was the Ukrainian official that prohibited flights from the surface to FL320? Why 32,000? If a missile could hit a plane at 21,000 then that same missile battery is also capable of hitting anything in the 30s or 40s. The big question is, why?

    I believe you already answered it: "money trumps anything."

    As of July 17, ICAO does not close airspace over countries. That responsibility is given to each individual country. The conflict of interest comes in when you consider overflight fees:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/07/23/ukraine-gets-200-million-a-year-for-allowing-overflights/

    Many countries collect revenue from allowing overflights. In this case, Ukraine apparently collects $200 million per year. Do you close the entire airspace over your country and risk losing 200 million in overflight fees? Or, do you set a bogus altitude (32,000 feet) and say anything above that is SAFE..... knowing full well that nearly all commercial jetliners are flying in the 30,000-40,000 foot range.

    One of the changes we must see from this tragedy is taking away a country's right to delcare itself "safe" for overflights during conflict/battle/war. There is too much conflict of interest. We need one international organization (ICAO?) who analyzes the war situation and then prohibits airlines entirely from over that affected region. Even that may not be a good fix, because political/lobbying usually wins.

    But at the very least, we cannot allow countries that collect overflight fees to decide if their own airspace is safe enough. It obviously didn't work on July 17.

    -M.A.

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    1. That's an excellent point about the overflight fees and the determination if a country is safe. I'm not sure how that all works, but explains so much!

      I also had not thought of the common sense factor on the ...they shot down a plane at 210, they certainly could go higher. I just don't think any believed this could happen.

      Thanks so much for the comment!

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  20. Karlene,as I'm sure you are aware my comments to you concerning whatever the topic of that day,are usually light hearted,off the cuff,just the observations of an old Englishman,who's interest in aircraft stems back some 60yrs when Mum & Dad would take my elder brother & me on picnics at the bottom of runway 25 at the old Newcastle Airport.I only have the vaguest of memories but I do remember Mother saying years later that I would sit wide-eyed,open mouthed as I watched in awe as the Constellations,DC-3/4/&6.And of course fine British types,Airspeed Ambassador,Bristol Britannia &later the Comet 4.The worlds first passenger jet!I'm proud to say I've flown in one.In 1980,a Dan-Air flight Gatwick -Corfu.Our honeymoon,my wife's 1st ever flight.
    But I digress.
    The world was rightly shocked by MH17.No more so than here in my home town of Newcastle,England.
    Two of the pax were from here.They were sports fans traveling to New Zealand to watch our soccer team-NEWCASTLE UNITED in a pre-season,warm up game that meant nothing.Yet these guys save their money for this trip of a lifetime,just to support our club.The out pourings of grief from all over the country & the world have been tremendous.
    Karlene,thank you for allowing me to relate to the grief of all who suffered in this horror must have went through.

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    1. John, I am so sorry for your neighbors, their family, and all friends. Mostly for them. To save a lifetime of a trip of a lifetime and have it taken is simply crushing. Words cannot say. But today a moment of silence will be for them. Thank you for sharing your story. What can bring such joy to a young boy and bring such heartache years later is a shame. Keep your childhood memories alive. Thank you for the comment.

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