Wednesday 2013-11-20

Airframe by Michael Crichton

This is one of those great old-guy novels where they bitch about how the world's falling apart. And they're right of course. There's always at least a kernel of destruction in our world.

“My guess is you’ll find more fake parts.” Amos stood, sighing. “More and more planes have fake parts, these days. I suppose it’s to be expected. These days, everybody seems to believe in Santa Claus.” “How’s that?” “Because they believe in something for nothing,” Amos said. “You know: government deregulates the airlines, and everybody cheers. We got cheaper fares: everybody cheers. But the carriers have to cut costs. So the food is awful. That’s okay. There are fewer direct flights, more hubs. That’s okay. The planes look grubby, because they redo the interiors less often. That’s okay. But still the carriers have to cut more costs. So they run the planes longer, buy fewer new ones. The fleet ages. That’ll be okay—for a while. Eventually it won’t be. And meanwhile, cost pressures continue. So where else do they cut? Maintenance? Parts? What? It can’t go on indefinitely. Just can’t. Of course, now Congress is helping them out, by cutting appropriations for the FAA, so there’ll be less oversight. Carriers can ease up on maintenance because nobody’s watching. And the public doesn’t care, because for thirty years this country’s had the best aviation safety record in the world. But the thing is, we paid for it. We paid to have new, safe planes and we paid for the oversight to make sure they were well maintained. But those days are over. Now, everybody believes in something for nothing.”
“Okay. But I think Newsline’s information is inaccurate and biased. Can we demand they give equal time to our evidence?” “No,” Fuller said. “The fairness doctrine, which included the equal-time provision, was scrapped under Reagan. Television news programs are under no obligation to present all sides of an issue.”
Flight recorders were notoriously unreliable. In the media, they were the mysterious black boxes that revealed all the secrets of a flight. But in reality, they often didn’t work.