Saturday, 27 December 2008

Crisis management for beginners

In the news yesterday and today came two reports of aviation mishaps, illustrating remarkably different ways of responding to an emergency.

First a Cessna with engine failure ditched in the sea, and sank after the pilot exited the cockpit.

The Cessna plunged into the sea near Ruakaka Surf Club and the pilot managed to get out of the cockpit before the aircraft quickly sank. He was then picked up by surf club members who went to his aid. Police said that the pilot escaped unscathed.

The pilot had begun to swim towards shore, Mr Taylor said. "We got out there and he was just bobbing around in the water. He was saying 'I'm fine, don't worry about me'."

Mr Larimer added that the man was "remarkably calm". "He'd just put out a Mayday call, and he just wanted to make sure that was taken care of."

The pilot was well, and walked from the ambulance into the hospital. "He was fine. He apologised for wasting our time."

Contrast that with an Air New Zealand ATR twin engine airliner which had one engine shut down, and returned to Wellington. The passengers were distraught and upset, even though they were never in any danger.

The headlines were a clear hint at the panic and exaggeration to come.
  • Passengers `freak out' as engine stops.
  • "Oh my God, I'm gonna die."
Ane Swart, 19, said the delay in telling passengers what had happened made her think the worst. "We were like, oh my God, what the hell?"

If that wasn't clear enough for you (it certainly didn't help my understanding);

Another passenger, Natalie Edwards, also 19, said she could see one engine had stopped but the other was still going. "I wasn't saying anything, I was just trying to concentrate on not flipping out."

An ambulance spokesman said, ""They were a bit shaken up more than anything."

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