After publishing my story this morning on the American Airlines pilots who have refused to allow the NTSB investigatory team to record their interview, I received a text message from 121pilot, a commercial airline pilot for a major U.S. carrier and our resident captain on Live and Let’s Fly. As I greatly respect him and his opinions as a professional pilot, I wanted to publish his counterpoint and then open this issue to discussion. He reasons that in our “gotcha” culture in which leaks can be counted on, the AA pilots reasonably objected to having their testimony recorded.
No, AA Pilots Should Not Agree To Let NTSB Record Their Testimony.
Ok I’m very understanding of the AA pilots’ desire not to participate in a recorded interview. The problem with electronic recordings is the high probability of it leaking. The NTSB can interview the pilots and take notes, etc. as they have always done and get to the heart of the safety issues involved. Safety does NOT require an electronic recording of every utterance. Part of the problem with an electronic recording is that when it inevitably leaks, there is then a high probability for selective editing. This results in the pilots being made to look far worse than they should.
The crew (who I agree as you know screwed up badly) is willing to be interviewed. Making an electronic recording might be an added convenience for the investigators but frankly, the negatives outweigh the probable gains. If it was me in the hot seat I’d be fighting it as well. It’s one thing to sit down and have a fully candid conversation about what went wrong. It’s quite another to do so when it’s being recorded and there is a near certainty of that recording being leaked and selectively edited to make someone look as stupid as possible. Because that is gotcha journalism these days.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Even if 121pilot makes a reasonable point, does the risk of leaking the audio outweigh the benefits of ensuring that investigators cannot twist the words of pilots, which only a recording can 100% ensure?
image: vintage AA travel poster