Forty years after the Antarctic sightseeing airline crash multiple errors and omissions can be seen as the cause ……
Parallels are inescapable between the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and the crash onto Mt Erebus in 1979 of an Air New Zealand DC10 sightseeing flight.
Both collided with Polar ice. The Titanic with an Arctic iceberg. The DC10 with Mt Erebus in the Antarctic.
Both the Titanic and the DC10 were considered the most advanced technologies of their era.
Sabotage did not figure in either disaster.
Head office interference was cited in both disasters. For the Titanic to go faster and for the DC10 sightseeing flight to go lower.
Routine and mundane failures were related to the cause of both disasters.
The flawed fat finger headquarters coordinates entered into the DC10 navigation system. The failure of anyone on the Titanic crew to have the keys needed to open the binoculars safe box on the crows nest.
Passenger requirement diversions in both disasters are seen as contributing factors.
On the Titanic the radio office was preoccupied with passenger telegrams to the exclusion of receiving operational iceberg warning messages. The DC10 flight was underpinned by the need to give passengers the closest look at the Antarctic terrain.
Both captains perished in the disasters. Captain Smith of the Titanic and Captain Collins of the DC10
Both captains had overconfidence in the machinery under their command.
Captain Smith in the unsinkability of the Titanic. Captain Collins in the veracity of the input into his automated navigation system
In both disasters blame attached to human handling of the technology and not to the technology itself.
In both disasters the shadow fell on corporate top management.
Bruce Ismay the head of the White Star Line, a Titanic survivor, was subsequently blamed for urging the Titanic to go faster regardless of the ice threat. Morrie Davis his Air New Zealand counterpart was blamed for acquiescing in the low altitude flying in the vicinity of Mr Erebus
Both disasters were followed by inquiries in Great Britain.
In both disasters the unanswered questions and associated riddles have accelerated interest in the tragedies.
In the instance of the Erebus disaster the Privy Council was moved to recommend that the past remain in the past, that bygones be bygones.
The New Zealand official history crisply states: “Debate raged over who was at fault for the accident. The chief inspector of air accidents attributed the disaster to pilot error. Justice Peter Mahon’s Royal Commission of Inquiry disagreed, placing the blame on Air New Zealand and its systems. The controversy continues….”
Both disasters gave rise to much bibliography and cinematography. Art followed the fact of these two disasters.
The first Titanic film featured a survivor.
The Aftermath was broadcast by Television New Zealand while memories of the Mt Erebus disaster were still fresh in the public memory. The TVNZ dramatized documentary is still considered unimprovable.
The director of the most recent Titanic feature film James Cameron lives in New Zealand.
An earlier film Raise the Titanic starred Jason Robards whose grandson Jasper Robards manages the Cameron family arable farms in New Zealand.
HRH’s deft handling of awkward trade meeting revealed depth of character, patience, remembers National Press Club president
Prince Andrew lamented the transition of the televised weather broadcast into entertainment. “I miss the isobars,” he confessed referring to the whorls and lines on the now disappeared diagrams that represented the connecting points having the same atmospheric pressure at a given time or on average over a given period.
HRH was dismayed that so much applied science in the media was taking a back seat to the imperative to entertain.
We met at government house in Wellington, New Zealand, and Prince Andrew was on tour as Britain’s trade “ambassador” working for United Kingdom Trade and Industry, the nation’s central promotion and development agency.
The prince sat at the head of a horse shoe shaped gathering of which I was a component through having at the time a role with what was then known as the British New Zealand Trade Council, which dates back to 1917, recalls now National Press Club president Peter Isaac
Andrew had a crisp, incisive manner. Nothing other-worldly about him. He fixed the group, looking at us directly, friendlily.
The British High Commissioner at the time George Fergusson, who had once himself held down a governmental trade promotion assignment, piped up about the international prospects for New Zealand honey.
Fergusson went into detail about the medicinal properties of honey, and did so at some length.
He then segued into a random history of the electronic microprocessor.
It occurred to me that the point of the story might have been to remind the prince of how the microprocessor patents had been allowed to slip way to Asia before being at the very last moment repatriated to the English speaking realm, the United States.
Geordie Fergusson, the last in a dynastic succession of British proconsuls to New Zealand, finally allowed his electronics contribution to taper off without it defining any special lesson, or indeed, point.
Andrew had a reputation for petulance, for being easily irritated, and it occurred to me that HRH might be becoming somewhat peeved about Fergusson taking over what was designated as his, HRH’s, show.
Andrew (pictured above at the time) listened attentively and with apparent interest to this vice regal dissertation.
On the heels of this followed now a question that surprised everyone including Andrew.
A local departmental trade functionary asked HRH about his golf, and his prospects for practising it in New Zealand.
Bringing up an off-agenda topic with a member of the royal family is a not unfamiliar play, especially with Andrew’s father, Prince Philip.
It is of course risky. It either catches the mood of the moment or it does not. This one did not.
This was not immediately apparent to the public service questioner, it turned out.
Andrew’s expression grew quizzical, but only briefly, and he sought to deter the issue by focussing on another imminent question, this one on the beaten track about trade and technology.
But the questioner persisted.
“We know all about you and your golf,” was the chummy follow up from the functionary.
“Come on…..we all know it is your passion……”
The prince’s private secretary now cut in suggesting that the prince extrapolate on a more focused point about commonwealth trade.
Andrew who speaks in a middle class English accent, and not the trademark drawl so many antipodeans associate with the royal family, took up the threads without allowing, if in fact, he felt it, any trace of irritation to cross his face.
He was at ease. The private secretary brought the event to a close. There was another pressing appointment, it seemed. Andrew was ushered out, yet gave the impression that he would much prefer chewing the cud with us.
Andrew presented the picture of a technocrat and a people-person, an encompassing ability that is by no means widespread.
As royalty becomes treated as reality show stars, and as reality show stars gravitate to royal status, Prince Andrew has become one of the most caricatured individuals on the face of the earth.
The profession of royalty has much in common with Andrew’s other profession, that of arms in that they are both hurry-up-and-wait occupations.
It is in the extended waiting periods between engagements in which lurk the unforeseen and contemporary perils
The actual cost of the Zero Carbon legislation that has just passed through New Zealand’s parliament is more than a trillion dollars in lost GDP.
The estimate is from AgFirst the leading non-governmental source of information in this domain.
AgFirst’s trillion dollar plus actual cost estimate was published in New Zealand Farmers Weekly
This forecast conflicts with an officially aired report that the zero carbon by 2050 legislative objective for the Bill will in contrast add $30 billion to the economy.
The independent and much higher negative estimate instantly became blacked-out through absence of pick-up in the mainstream media, print and broadcast, which has adopted a collective policy of ignoring anything viewed as countering the government line on climate change.
In Parliament itself the Opposition has been cowed into silence on the cost of the Bill.
The common reference figure of the nation’s contribution to global greenhouse gases is a fraction of one percent, 0.17 percent, which the government’s own reports dismiss as a “negligible” contribution, though such reports are careful to praise the global “leadership.”
But propelling the New Zealand government to seek United Nations laurels is the nation’s culpability on its population basis said to place it in the very top flight of emitters.
New Zealand is unusual statistically in that less than half of one percent of its terrain is urbanised, lived in.
The population density in emitting terms is actually represented by the very high ruminant population of sheep and cattle. Especially of cattle and it is the high number of these animals and their gaseous processes required to digest vegetation that provides such a large proportion of this 0.17 percent.
Even if opponents of the coalition’s global grandstanding are suspicious about actual costs of the Bill, any resulting dissent is quelled.
Rumbling in the public sphere is doused by letting it be known that funding follows acquiescence.
State spending reached an all-time high of 11638 NZD Million in the second quarter of 2019 underlining the government’s ability to hold the line everywhere in the support for its flagship policy.
The government has been much helped by a general drift away from chemistry and mathematics and this has allowed it to spread fear uncertainty and doubt about “carbon” as carbon dioxide is routinely described.
Any hint that carbon dioxide is the plant growth gas will be quickly stomped on and the impression left to linger that it is the exhaust gas carbon monoxide or carbon black, soot, i.e. entirely nasty.
Neither is the conversation likely to be allowed to extend to the fact that a diamond for example is pure carbon.
.The Green-Labour coalition’s grip on all this is complete and so it should be a cynic might say given that the state is the predominant employer of journalists and public relations practitioners.
The additional packaging of the moral cause in motherhood-grade compassion and social justice has completed the neutralisation and paralysis of the Opposition the National Party so very conscious of being viewed as being otherwise.
Only the single MP party of ACT has challenged the Bill.