Ethics of Flying a Plane

I was extremely shocked when I heard the news that the plane crash in the French Alps of Germanwings flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf had been a deliberate action on the part of the co-pilot. I had, like most people I think, assumed that there had been a catastrophic fault with the plane and the pilots were unable to land safely. So to hear that one of the pilots deliberately plunged into the mountains made me feel sick. Worse still, the silence he held, seemingly not even feeling the need to explain his actions, makes me extremely worried. This eerie silence makes me think that the pilot didn’t need to justify what he was doing.

Talking about this with my husband, he said that he is reassured by the fact the pilot brought the plane down, rather than it having a serious fault. I, on the other hand, am anything but reassured by this. In fact it makes me more nervous. The reason for this is that any fault in the engineering of the plane can be fixed in other planes, whereas we can never be sure another human won’t make the same choice as this pilot.

Humans are the most variable factor in flying these days, and it worries me that one individual can be given control like this over the lives of hundreds of others. I can accept that devastating tragedies sometimes happen by accident, but I can never accept that any human can cause such devastation.

I’m not exactly longing for the day when computers or robots take over our flying of planes (or programmes or whatever) but I do feel that it might prevent some of these tragedies caused by poor human judgement. And until then, we need to put measures into place so that no one person can ever single-handedly down a passenger aircraft.

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