Plane Dives Into Atlantic Ocean
As a pilot of single-engine planes, I often research past accidents to study them and learn from them. To me, it’s a way of remembering those who saw their death in a most hellish way, but didn’t die for nothing, if I can find a lesson in there that helps even one person avoid similar issues.
Often, the mistakes made in airplane disasters are ones that we see in other walks of life, since they involve the ability to detect a problem and work from a pre-written, industry-wide checklist provided to the pilots, in the case of such an event.
Think about it: pilots have a game plan procedure for nearly every contingency.
In the markets, we call this an exit strategy. In the air, we call it emergency checklists or routine checklists, depending on what’s happening.
For Swissair 111, which was headed from JFK in New York to Geneva (Switzerland), an early September 1998 flight, the checklists proved fatal.
For a pilot, there are three things that can go very wrong:
- The plane’s computer systems glitch and give you false or erroneous indications of emergencies.
- The problem you’re dealing with doesn’t fit a specific checklist.
- The pilots dismiss or misidentify the emergency.
When the smell of smoke entered flight 111’s cockpit, they initially cataloged it as air-conditioning vapor. This would be the same as thinking short-covering is bulls buying; it looks the same, but the differences are huge.
Worse still, the smoke stopped for a while and the pilots got confirmation bias, thinking they were diagnosing the situation correctly.
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When the smoke returned in earnest, they realized something was off, but smoke is just that, so they decided to follow the procedure in these events, and land the plane before crossing the ocean.
The problem was that what they saw was the smoke, while invisible to them, within the top part of the wiring of the plane, a fire was already raging!
To this day I don’t know why that is, but when the smoke turned to fire, the pilots declared MAYDAY and headed straight to the nearest airport, which was Halifax in Canada. Tragically, the cockpit became an inferno and the plane, with all 220+ passengers and crew, nosedived into the ocean, killing everyone upon impact.
Whenever I pilot a Cessna, before take-off, one of the first items on the checklist is the presence of an extinguisher, working and unopened, including the date on it.
If you examine the 1998 smoke from an unknown source checklist, you’ll see that putting out the fire or landing immediately is way, way down there, after many other procedures.
Like with investing, the professionals at McDonnell Douglas and the safety workers at Swissair are human beings, capable of making fatal mistakes, in constructing the safety measures and protocols.
We just got a very encouraging CPI report, which must feel to investors like the absence of smoke felt to the pilots after they first noticed it… the danger has passed, they reckoned.
Wealth Research Group believes that inflation is deceiving and that 8.0% reports are not out of the question in the coming months. We aren’t celebrating, and to be exact, if I believe that in hindsight, a company I purchased shares of during the ZIRP era was bought too high, and I have a chance to sell it into a rally, I will.
We’re not out of the woods yet, and neither is gold.
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