Who’s Flying the Plane

I mentioned in an earlier post my interest in plane crashes. I had been toying with a presentation based on this concept for quite awhile.

A little over a month ago, at the local SQL Server User group here in Albany I offered to present for the February meeting. I gave them a choice of topics: A talk on Entity Framework and how its defaults can be bad for performance and a talk on plane crashes and what IT can learn from them.  They chose the latter. I guess plane crashes are more exciting than a dry talk on EF.

In any event, the core of the presentation is based on the two plane crashes mentioned in the earlier post, Eastern Airlines Flight 401, the L-1011 crash in Florida in 1972 and US Airways Flight 1549, the Miracle on the Hudson in 2009.

I don’t want to reproduce the entire talk here (in part because I’m hoping to present it elsewhere) but I want to highlight one slide:

Flight 401 vs 1549

  • Flight 401 – Perfectly good aircraft
  • Flight 1549 –About as bad as it gets
  • Flight 401 – 101 Fatalities/75 Survivors
  • Flight 1549 – 0 Fatalities

Flight 401 had a bad front nosegear landing light and crashed.

Flight 1549 had two non-functional engines and everyone got off safely.

The difference, was good communications, planning, and a focus at all times on who was actually flying the airplane.

This about this the next time you’re in a crisis.  Are you communicating well? How is your planning, and is someone actually focused on making sure things don’t get worse because you’re focusing on the wrong problem.  I touch upon that here when I talk about driving.

The moral: always make sure someone is “flying the plane”.

3 thoughts on “Who’s Flying the Plane

  1. Good post indeed. I’ve blogged about things like this also, good to see someone else interested. I’ve done a few presentations on airline disasters and “Don’t forget to fly the plane” is a big mantra I get to when I give that presentation. There are a few too many situations where a plane had a minor issue and it was “troubleshot” into the ground.

    http://straightpathsql.com/presentations/iceberg-dead-ahead/ for some more thoughts from a techie. And http://straightpathsql.com/archives/2012/02/dont-splint-your-database-server-to-death/

    A bit older but still a topic I very much enjoy talking about. So many lessons for us 🙂

    Glad I happened on your blog. Will add it to the list to check out.

    • Thanks Mike. I just took a look at your splint post and love it. Yes, I’ve seen similar things happen both in medical emergencies and in IT. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one out there thinking this way.

      I’ll have to remember to check out your blog more often. And to write more for mine!

  2. Pingback: Bacon | greenmountainsoftware

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