Monday, April 14, 2014

Bunnie Tyler

I heard on RTHK's news the other day that the missing Malaysian aeroplane "disappeared off the west coast of Australia". Errr ... no. It disappeared about 40 minutes north of KL which, last time I looked, was not off the west coast of Australia. The plane might be found off the west coast of Australia, but that is a slightly different matter.

But, moving from careless journalism to general not caring, what do we find? Hong Kong's very own Tony Tyler in the unexpected and surely uncomfortable position of having a sinecure (awarded after many years of taking Cathay' Pacific's share price absolutely nowhere) turn into a job requiring some action.

And what else do we find from this lifetime wallower in the corporate gravy train - yes, prevarication, flannel and obfuscation. Here is his response to the problems exposed by the missing aircraft.

"While constant downloads of all available information from every flight would be too tough to monitor and analyse, it should be possible to find a way of targeting critical data subsets". This is a classic straw man argument followed by jargon. No one is saying that all data needs to be monitored and analysed, but this is being used as a reason for not transmitting the data at all. And note how Tyler switches from everyday language ("too tough") when saying what he doesn't want to do to jargon when he talks about what he might get done. "Targeting critical data subsets", FFS!

“We make safety our top priority, but on very rare occasions tragedy strikes. We are all saddened by this event.”

Sad Tyler is "hopeful" that finding the missing plane "will allow us to transition from the current speculation to a full investigation.” In other words, not finding it will be an excuse for doing nothing. And he hopes that the investigation could be finished by the end of this year (only 9 months away when he said that) as it is "urgent". I'd hate to see what happens if something is not urgent.

But we have already seen that. Tyler also said it was time to “accelerate” ideas arising from AF447. Let me see, when was the Air France tragedy, which doubtless also saddened Topless Tone? Only 5 years ago? Oh, a mere drop in the ocean of eternity. The cynical might look even further back, to the September 11, 2001 hijackings, which highlighted how the system (of being able to turn off transponders) could backfire. The hijackers of three of the four commandeered aircraft “hid” the planes by turning off their transponders. So a mere 13 years have passed since the value of continuous contact with aircraft has been demonstrated.

“Our goal is to find out what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” says Tony. Yes, just like you did 5 and 13 years ago. Not.

But even though safety is the "top priority", and even though Tony is sad, he said in Abu Dhabi at the Global Aerospace Summit that the cost of tracking would have to be examined in any decision. He said profit margins for the global industry this year were still very narrow (perhaps not as narrow as they were at Cathay after Tyler's foray into the hedging markets, eh, Tony?), and he expected them to be around $5.65 (£3.40) per passenger. “Clearly, cost is one of the issues that will have to be considered when we are looking at what to do about it. And we have to make sure that what we do is something the airlines can afford.”

Ay, there's the rub. Luckily, the cost of finding NH370 MH370 is being borne by Australian and other tax payers. And, with a bit of luck, they still won't find the plane and Tony can go back to sleep.


  1. Has All Nippon Airways lost a plane too, fumie? I thought pilot suicides with the Japs ended with WWII.

  2. That must be the problem, Ulie - they're looking for the wrong plane.

  3. The data stream from planes wouldn't have to be monitored and analysed unless something bad happened to the plane - only stored so it was available for analysis, in which case it could tell us what went wrong.