09 November 2010

Aircraft engine failures: strange reporting

There were two incidents recently reported of airliners' engines failing at or just after take-off. One was given wall-to-wall coverage in the international media, while the other got barely a mention in the local press.

Qantas: No Crash / Explosion | Plane Lands In Singapore:
'Qantas flight QF32 was en route from Singapore to Sydney, the number two engine has shut down, so as a precautionary measure we are taking it back to Singapore,' a Qantas spokeswoman said.

Qantas said the airliner landed at 11.45am local time.

DFAT confirmed the flight had landed safely at Changi Airport and that no passengers or crew had been injured.

And then there was this: Daily Dispatch Online:
ELEVEN passengers were injured yesterday during an emergency evacuation after an engine of a 1Time aircraft exploded at OR Tambo International Airport.

The 128 passengers on board Flight 119 to Cape Town at around 10am heard a “loud boom” minutes before take off.

So which one got bigger coverage -- the one in which there were no injuries, or the one in which 11 people were injured?

It was the former. I listened with amusement as a reporter interviewed a passenger on the Qantas flight, where there were no injuries. The reporter was desperately trying to get the passenger to say that he was frightened, and that it was a frightening experience, but the passenger refused to play ball. He wasn't frightened. Yes, an engine had failed, but the plane in question had four engines, and the other three were still working, the plane was still flying, and the pilot was still in control -- what was there to be frightened of?

The other story, in which 11 people were injured, mainly, apparently, because they made an emergency evacuation, got far less coverage. And one wonders why. Ususally the media are interested in injuries, so why less interest in this case?

Could it be because of the manufacturers of the aircraft and the engines? Could it be that the media have a vested interest in boosting some manufacturers and denigrating others? Especially when one learns a couple of days later that the value of the shares of one manufacturer of aircraft engines has dropped drastically. They couldn't be trying to manipulate the markets, could they? Perish the thought.

But it does make one wonder.

1 comment:

James Higham said...

Was the second one an Airbus?


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