Though ticketed passengers did not suspect, battery lobbyists had been victorious over the very best commercial aviation safety advocates. Through private meetings, where financial benefits of shipping dangerous lithium batteries to the battery industry by air freight are fostered, did lobbyists convince passenger airline executives to allow carriage onboard passenger commercial flights?
Many commercial aviation safety groups opposed the shipping by air freight, even cargo pilot groups and passenger pilot groups, who by the way hold identical commercial FAA flight ratings. ALPA, CAPA and other pilot industry safety groups have opposed the carriage of lithium batteries as air freight because passenger aircraft carry air freight in their cargo holds. That is correct, there is more than luggage in the cargo hold of passenger flights. There are live animals, mail, company maintenance items and air freight, to include lithium batteries, in these cargo holds. But hundreds of reported lithium battery related fires in flight related incidents have prompted safety groups to advocate regulations prohibiting these shipments.
Now comes along MH370 and Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia and 500 pounds of lithium batteries and 239 ticketed passengers and flight crew and cabin crew. Why did they all come together? Were not the warnings of commercial aviation safety experts sufficient to prevent this confluence of danger? Have the battery lobbyists been victorious in over riding all of the Safety Purpose? We may never know what happened to MH370. But we do know that publicly released statements from Malaysian Airlines document that about 500 pounds of lithium batteries were onboard MH370.
Has there been a victory celebration in the halls of the Lithium Battery Cargo Lobbyists and Battery Industry? Do they consider the defeat of the very best efforts of commercial aviation safety experts to influence government safety regulators in the US and apparently in Malaysia a victory for business over commercial aviation safety?
Will it now be time for the defeated to spend time mourning the loss of family, friends and colleagues who were aboard MH 370, UPS 6, Asiana 991 and other similar tragic disaster flights? How has it become that paid lawyers and public relations experts who are battery industry lobbyists can prevail over the very best efforts of hundreds of commercial aviation safety advocates?
When UPS 6 crashed near Dubai in the evening of September 3, 2010, (www.gcaa.gov.ae/…/2010-Interim%20R.) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UPS_Airlines_Flight_6) the crew had been in a battle for their lives for about 20 minutes. Upon first realizing cargo area temperatures were rising and that smoke and fumes were entering the cockpit, the crew made a turn towards a divert field, began a descent to landing, put on their oxygen masks and attempted to quell the fire. The crew was overcome by the smoke and heat, despite their best efforts and the plane crashed while the crew was attempting an approach to land. Communications with air traffic control were immediately effected by both the use of oxygen masks and the growing smoke and heat in the cockpit. Navigation and aviation back to the divert field were effected by the fire destroying electronic navigation components and flight control components. In essence, the crew was overcome and the plane was overcome by the fire in the cargo compartment. In the end, the plane crashed into the desert sand in the descent the crew had initiated. The investigation revealed that a fire most likely caused by lithium batteries
About twenty minutes after MH 370 began its flight, the aviation, navigation and communication changed dramatically. Was it due to a fire caused by lithium batteries carried in the cargo hold? Was it due to an explosion or fire related to material brought aboard by terrorists? Though this may be unknown at this point of the investigation, the flight path of the flight, the changes in navigation and changes in communication both verbal and those by automated reporting systems seem to indicate high levels of similarities between these two mishaps.
Does failure of regulatory authorities to comprehend that a cargo aircraft mishap caused by a fire from hazardous cargo could one day lead to the loss of a passenger aircraft hauling the same cargo reveal a fallacy in regulatory logic? Do regulators reason that until a loss occurs, there is no reason to restrict commerce? But what if the loss of an aircraft due to lithium battery caused fire is a cargo aircraft? Do regulators reason that only cargo aircraft should be restricted from carrying lithium batteries? Should regulators reason that passenger aircraft should also be restricted from carrying lithium batteries?
Are we looking at what is called regulatory two levels of safety, one for cargo flights and one for passenger flights? Is the great fallacy in regulation that passenger flights also haul massive amounts of air freight, and the attempt to create two levels of safety to carve out an exemption for cargo flights in reality results in no level of safety when it comes to carrying hazardous cargo?
Are MH 370 and UPS 6 essentially the same mishap recurring all over again? Was in fact MH 370 a preventable mishap?