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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fear of flying: a new twist

This is the picture accompanying a piece in the new Vanity Fair about a mid-air collision that took place over Brazil in 2006. It's actually an illustration, which is obvious when you think about it. When you read the piece, which is good but three times as long as it needs to be, you realise the accident happened so fast that in its wake the occupants of the private plane weren't even sure that they'd struck a commercial airliner. The element of the story that has been occupying my thoughts since reading it is this: the two planes collided because they were directed to the same part of the sky at the same height but in opposite directions. If this had happened twenty years ago then there would have been room for error and they would most probably have missed each other. Modern navigation equipment means they wouldn't.