Transaero Chimes In About That Tel Aviv Flight

Filed Under: Media, Other Airlines

Yesterday I shared the rather odd story of a lady who was flying Transaero from Tel Aviv to Moscow when she noticed something wrong with the wing, and demanded they return to the gate. If you haven’t read the original account, I’d suggest checking it out.

Without judging the validity of the story as such, a few thoughts immediately came to mind:

  • The story was being recounted by her dad, who wasn’t on the flight. The story would have had at least a bit more credibility if it came from her, as opposed to her dad.
  • It’s only natural for parents to be overly proud of their kids, though his account came across as extremely presumptuous, essentially claiming that his daughter saved the lives of everyone aboard.
  • The story as such sets an interesting precedent. How does this woman know when something isn’t “right?” Not only that, but she was so determined to have the plane return to the gate that she got up while the plane was taxiing and disobeyed crewmember instructions. In the US that would potentially get you arrested.

I never really questioned whether or not the story as such happened. Which isn’t to say that I believed her account of the story, but I did indeed believe that the plane returned to the gate.

Interestingly now has a statement from Transaero regarding the incident:

Transaero Airlines: flight safety is key priority of the airline’s operations

A number of Israel’s media have published an information assuming that a passenger of Transaero’s UN312 flight carried out on April 12, 2015 contributed to detecting a defect in the aircraft condition.

As the initial information was published in the Israel’s media outlets with no comments requested either from the airline nor from independent aviation experts who could have helped to understand the actual state of the matter, the information was misinterpreted.

The airline finds it necessary to clarify the real circumstances. When carrying out the mandatory pre-flight system check at the engine starting point, the flight crew reported the indication of asymmetric work of slats. The flight crew called for specialists of the handling company of Ben Gurion airport. The diagnostics, carried out by the specialists, showed that the aircraft having this defect should not be operated on this flight.

At the time when the flight crew and the specialists of the airport were carrying out checks, one of the passengers reported to the cabin crew that she heard ambient noise. Although the passenger, in dread, drew higher attention to a strange for her noise, the decision to suspend the aircraft from operations was not made upon the information received from her, but as the result of the technical check of the aircraft. The aviation has strict regulations and rules of control over all systems of aircraft as part of pre-flight checks and preparatory operations. They were fully observed by the crew as well as by the specialists of the handling company.

Over 24 years of Transaero’s history, flight safety has always been and, at present, remains one of the top priorities of Transaero Airlines. Transaero has always been following the strict rules of preflight aircraft checks. Due to the airline’s highest consideration to safety issues, Transaero Airlines is included in the top 20 safest airlines in the world and the top 6 safest airlines in Europe in the international ranking of JACDEC research agency.

I am inclined to believe this story, and that it was probably just a very strange coincidence. We put our lives in the hands of pilots every day, and virtually anything that could go wrong with a plane can be detected based on the instruments in the cockpit. If not, that sure would change the dynamic of being a passenger, as we’d constantly have to be the pilots’ eyes and ears.

While “if you see something, say something” is a good policy on the subway, it’s less of a good mindset on a plane, at least when it comes to stuff outside the cabin.

So I’d be willing to bet instruments did actually indicate there was a problem with the plane during their pre-takeoff checks, and that whatever the woman reported wasn’t actually a factor here.

Bottom line

Ultimately I believe the woman had good intentions with reporting her issue. It’s a good thing this incident didn’t happen in the US, because she would have likely been arrested for not following crewmember instructions.

What do you make of this Transaero story?

  1. Clearly the PR piece was not written by an English as first language person, ‘in dead?’

    Otherwise it is nice that passengers are proactive but unless you are an authority or have special knowledge (in this case being in aviation) best to report your awareness and leave it at that. Crew are best equipped to handle situations and its not worth the small chance you are right for the much larger chance of disrupting operations. We know this from the nut lady…

  2. See something and say something doesnt work in a plane, unless you are a pilot yourself that is shuttling? Thats a question, not a statement.

  3. What else could the airline say? That they intended to fly with a defective airplane but eventually decided against it because a young woman caught them out?

    Some of the speculation in comments on the original article imply that this may have been an attempt at sabotage by religiously motivated extremist engineering staff seeking to target Jewish and/or Russian passengers on the flight. If that was the case, there is a huge motive for the airport and the airline to try and cover it up.

    There is more to this story than meets the eye. Thank you Lucky for bringing this story to wider attention and hopefully this young woman’s bravery will be properly recognised and rewarded in due course.

  4. hmmm.. so many thing sounds fishy. Myself being a commercial pilot, I usually have EVERYTHING about the airplane known by the time I (we) finish preflight. That mechanic(s) reported problem was not known to pilot till plane was already taxing is BS. The issue described isn’t “paint chipping” on fuselage. It was asymmetric work of slats. It would be quite interesting takeoff with one (e.g. left) slot “out” and right “in”.

  5. “flight safety has always been and, at present, remains one of the top priorities of Transaero Airlines.”

    At present? Like that might change in the future? There’s a little too much flexibility in that statement for my taste.

  6. Ben, do you remember the case on the Concord when a passenger observed fuel leaking out of the wing just after takeoff? He alerted the flight attendant who laughed it off saying it was normal. As I remember he was an engineer for Boeing and he kept insisting that the pilot be alerted. Finally the co pilot came back saw the leak and they turned back just in time. So occasionally the passenger can be right.

  7. I agree with Lucky’s observations and that the airline’s version sounds a whole lot more believable than the parent’s. This “story” has gotten a lot more ink than it deserved.

  8. Is it just me or isn’t this the whole plot line of the first (or is it the second?) Final Destination movies?

    Will we be hearing an unusual string of crazy deaths in the coming days?

  9. Neither the hearsay from the passenger or the santized, legalized talking points from the company merits much credibility on face value. How about a statement from an independent third party?

  10. There was the BMI accident back in the late 80s when the crew shut down the wrong engine,and the passengers noticed it but didn’t do anything because they trusted the pilots .

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