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Through his 1997 Airframe novel, Michael Crichton describes Casey Singleton’s response after a plane that was manufactured by Norton Aircraft experiences an accident while in flight. Singleton is a quality assurance officer at Norton Aircraft. Does the story accurately portray an aircraft manufacturer’s response to an accident? By demonstrating that following the accident, Norton Aircraft works hard to ensure that it (Norton Aircraft) does not only ascertain the genesis of the accident, but also to try to exonerate itself from any culpability, Crichton presents an accurate picture of aircraft manufacturers’ reaction to plane accidents.
To illustrate, Singleton puts forth great efforts to investigate the facts behind the accident (Crichton, 1996). It is notable that a Singleton is not interested in the numerous aspects that usually surround pane mishaps. Rather, she seeks to establish who erred with regard to the accident. This is the typical reaction of aircraft manufacturers after plane accidents; they seek to apportion blame rather than solve the problem.
Does the story accurately portray the media’s response to an aircraft accident?
Crichton also presents a credible description of how the news-hungry media usually responds after plane accidents. It is undisputable that media houses jostle to present that so-called ‘exclusive’ story to the public after air accidents. This trend is clearly exhibited by the plans by a local media house to air a sensational news program that has somewhat maliciously dubbed the ill-fated plane a ‘deathtrap’. The author thus describes and critiques the sensational attitude that the media shows towards plane accidents.
What was your overall impression of the story?
After studying Crichton’s story, I was pleased with the author’s description of events that closely resemble real-life aviation accidents. For example, in describing the circumstances as well as the cause of the accident, Crichton draws parallels with the American Airlines Flight 191 fatal crash. In addition, Singleton’s investigations reveal that the accident was partly caused by the captain’s error of allowing his inexperienced son to take charge of the aircraft. Similarly, the Aeroflot flight 593 mishap in 1994 originated from the pilot’s mistake of permitting his inexperienced son to man the flight.
Discerning such parallels to real-life events makes me to like the novel owing to its seeming applicability in contemporary mishaps. On the other hand, after closely examining Crichton’s plot, I have deduced several themes which make the author’s text very significant. For example, the author describes events that seek to show that air accidents are usually blamed on the wrong parties. In this case, John Marder and his associates try to place the blame for the accident squarely on Singleton.
After her investigations, Singleton however detects that the fault was in the person who was operating the aircraft, particularity the pilot. The author thus demonstrates that innocent and vulnerable parties usually unjustly carry the blame for plane accidents. This candid portrayal of the blame games that accompany plane accidents is an aspect that makes the author’s work worthy of praise. In addition, I marveled at Crichton’s demonstration that humans, as opposed to mechanical failures, are the main cause of plane accidents.
The author thus eradicates the popular notion that machine failure is normally the major culprit behind plane accidents. To illustrate, the aircraft is functional as per Singleton’s investigations. Human error, in form of improper maintenance coupled with operational errors; make the plane to have the accident. Crichton thus debunks a popular myth related to aircraft accidents through the novel’s events. This aspect makes me to really like the author’s bluntness and originality. References Crichton, M. (1996). Airframe. New York: Knopf.
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