When Spanair flight 5022 had its fatal accident in which most passengers died I said in my blog that most likely the accident was caused by  the pilots who made the tragic error of forgetting to take off with flaps.  I mentioned that I was a pilot myself and could see how the pilots paid for these horrible mistake with their lives and that of most passengers.  As you can see then some people criticized me with comments like this which argue that I had no business commenting on this tragedy before the official investigation.

Apreciado Martin,
me defraudas con este post. Con opiniones como la tuya nos evitariamos investigaciones de accidentes tan tediosas y ..sin importancia.
Te crei con algo de “sentido comun”, pero ya sabes lo que dicen, que “el sentido”por ser “comun”, nos toca a muy poco a cada uno.
Un poco de rigor y respeto; y no subir el trafico de tu blog a costa de desgracias de este tipo.

But after a long investigation I was right.  The pilots took off without flaps which is an incredible mistake to make, but humans are humans and we make mistakes. Planes should simply not take off without flaps and many don’t. I don’t blame the pilots fully in my post because I think engineering should have prevented this.

Well the same is true with cruise ships.  Engineering should have and could have averted this tragedy by not allowing ships to come close to coast lines without warnings.  Ships should also have ways to turn themselves when they are in collision course with land.

Before the investigation this is what I think happened (and of course I may be wrong).  I believe that the captain of Costa Concordia steered into the Island of Giglio.  You can see this from Marine Traffic.  I think the captain lies when he says he hit an uncharted rock while he was at a safe distance from the coast.  Instead he collided with the coastline either because he was just not at the helm or else because he was at the helm and wanted to show off his steering skills by going very close to the island of Giglio, but he then came too close and ran aground.  You can see the coastline in detail if you download a software called Navionics Mediterranean in your iPhone, Android or iPad. I have it because I sail and I am the skipper of my own sailboat.  That Island is not like the nearby coast between Corsica and Sardinia near the Island of Cavallo which is full of rocks and you can very well have an uncharted rock and collide against it as the skipper says.  The Giglio coast line instead goes down very quickly, to 100 meters or more.  The island of Giglio is like the top of a hill or mountain and most likely Francesco Schettino the skipper just drove into it either because he was “asleep at the wheel” or because he was trying on purpose to sail so close to the coast that he hit it in this tragic incident.

Added later:  I read this article about Showboating and it corroborates that the theory that the captain steered the ship into the coastline.

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Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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Adan on January 16, 2012  · 

I wish we could say the same about Air France 447. But I think it was the faulty pitot sensors that caused them to go down; they didn’t know how fast they were going, which is critical in bad weather. That time it was probably machine, not man. Too bad we’ll never really know what happened…

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Martin Varsavsky on January 16, 2012  · 

Adan this is what I wrote about Air France 447. Pilots who cross the Atlantic are not equipped well enough. They need real time weather info to complement what they see in their weather radars.

Jose on January 16, 2012  · 

It’s interesting, you put a commentary in Spanish as if considering your English blog readers understand Spanish, witch mainly may be true.

It seems like you don’t post hot topics on you Spanish blog anymore(like talking about Spanish people) because of fear of the feedback you receive. It is understandable, text is a bad communication platform.

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