December 22, 2008 | Dave Janney

“Early blame”

Here is an article about the Continental Airlines accident over the weekend.  The title of the article is “Early blame points to Continental jet’s brakes.”

It is interesting to see the word choice in some of the articles you read on accidents and investigations. Maybe the context of the way the word blame is used in this case is innocent enough, but I’m sensitive to the use of this word when it relates to an investigation.  As we all know, when blame enters the picture, it is not helpful.

Also note how the media attaches a potential cause so quickly; an investigation of this magnitude will take months if not years, so again, not helpful.  But the professionals at the NTSB and Continental are not ready to comment on cause, and rightfully so.  Let’s first understand what happened (steps 1-2 in the TapRooT® 7 step investigation process), then why it happened (steps 3-5), and finally, how future problems can be prevented (steps 6-7).

I also want to mention that it is good to see how well the evacuation process worked in this case; kudos to the crew for their response, and it is amazing to see how the passengers reacted and followed instructions to make sure everyone got out of the aircraft.

Pre-planning for emergencies is very important; as the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  While this is required for airlines, how many businesses do not have a plan?  From litigation, business continuity, and PR perspectives, a good emergency response plan is a must.

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