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Indiscipline is the main cause of accidents not just in aviation transport but also in road transport and factories among other sectors. Failure to adhere to standards and rules governing air transport including laxity on the part of relevant parties has led to the loss of thousands of lives. It is however ironic that although we need to have learned this lesson a long time ago, there are still loopholes in management and coordination in air travel leaving thousands of lives at risk especially with a continuous expansion of air travel. I will look at one case where indiscipline on the part of a captain and fellow co-pilots led to the loss of hundreds of lives. (Kern, 1998)
In this particular case, an air force pilot in charge of wing Standardization made dangerous attempts to show off his skills. This incident occurred on 24th June 1994 at Fairchild Air Base in Washington State. After taking off, this pilot in charge made a dangerous 90 degrees wing movement intended to show off although the lane that he was flying was outside such parameters. This was followed by a crash and the death of all on board. This particular case shows how indiscipline by the lieutenant pilot that was in charge and lack of leadership and intervention by fellow pilots led to fatalities. This is something that is still happening in the aviation industry today endangering millions of lives. Although records had shown that this particular pilot had made many other illegal and risky decisions, nothing was done by relevant organs precipitating this particular incident. (Kern, 1998)
Why is it that no action was taken against this lieutenant after making such earlier mistakes? There is a great possibility that there is no effective monitoring mechanism in the air force. These incidents could therefore have gone without resorting to high decision-making organs. Personalization of affairs in the air force where acquaintances and friendship matter more than professionalism can also explain why no action was taken against this lieutenant. It is important to notice that this particular pilot held a high rank of a lieutenant and was in charge of wing standardization meaning that he must have been acquainted with very high-ranking officials in the air force. (Kern, 1998)
With his rank in the air force, this lieutenant must have held some clout of authority and decision-making. He must have chaired important meetings that made decisions that affected the lives of the whole air force in general. This explains why fellow crewmen overlooked his earlier mistakes partly because they must have been afraid of him and desired to be on good terms with him because of his clout. To be in charge of wing standardization, this particular pilot must have gone for specialized training and must have been in charge of training. This meant that fellow pilots must have felt inferior to him and therefore felt no need to report earlier mistakes. (Dekker, 2005)
Because of his positions, the lieutenant held formal and informal authority. This is even made worse by the fact that there is a particular hierarchy in the air force meaning that the lieutenant peers or people below him in rank were the ones required to take decisions against the lieutenant. This played to the lieutenant’s advantage making it very difficult to deal with his mistakes. (Dekker, 2005)
It can be seen that failure to take necessary actions against this lieutenant led to the loss of many lives in the end. It would have been appropriate if earlier incidents by the lieutenant would have been reported. Investigations on the incidents would then have been launched. This should then have prompted disciplinary measures against the lieutenant and any other person that would have been found guilty of omitting responsibility like a failure of reporting indiscipline. Nearly all of the earlier incidents on indiscipline can only be described as gross like flying directly over an air show crowd on May 19, 1991. One can only imagine a potential catastrophe that can occur from such actions. Such indiscipline warrants immediate expulsion from flying activities and the air force besides a long jail term. This should have been done within a framework that would have provided hearing and prosecution by relevant justice systems in the airfare. If such measures had been taken, then the precious lives of the crew onboard the demised flight would have been preserved besides deterring other officers from trying such dangerous gimmicks. (Risukhin, 2001)
Indiscipline remains the major cause of all accidents including air accidents in the world. It is very sad to note that the lack of an effective mechanism of monitoring, evaluating and disciplining pilots and other people in command of flights still exists in our world today. It is very important for the whole aviation industry including the air force to strengthen and improve this mechanism for our air space to be even safer.
Dekker, S. (2005). “Ten Questions about Human Error” Human Factors in Transportation. Routledge.
Kern, T. (1998). “Flight Discipline”. McGraw Hill Professional.
Risukhin, V. (2001). “Controlling Pilot Error” Automation. McGraw-Hill Professional.