Even though I fly through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. The weather radar and that steady stream of pilot-cocky? They comfort me.

The left corner of the FCU panel glow with the form of a digital 0.76. Turbulence penetration speed. In case of turbulence, fly this speed to ensure that aircraft structure does not spontaneously combust.

We’re climbing steadily through two giant blocks of death- thunderstorm clouds lay so thick and potent they with crush your soul and slay your spirits.

These storms stretch far to our left and right. It was a fortunate bit of serendipity that this little opening presented itself, like a little valley through mountains of death.

Even though I fly through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. The weather radar and that steady stream of pilot-cocky? They comfort me.

For some reason, all that weather doesn’t scare me.

What scares me?

Let me tell you:

Pilot management who think flight safety is a joke. Spineless pilot managers who value their positions and cushy pay cheques over safe flight operations. These “leaders” claim to prioritise safety, when really, all they care about is the APPEARANCE of a safe operation. They will bury threats, scapegoat innocent people; anything other than confront the blatant shortcomings of their operations. They make a mockery of the Just Culture. They make a mockery of flight safety, period. Remember, a safety incident is the ultimate expression of an inefficient system. Sweeping an incident under the carpet is exactly the same as sweeping an inefficient system under the carpet.

Corporate organisations will blame everything on “pilot error” because this is the easiest way to distract the wider public from the systematic failure of their organisation. Very often, pilots are the final line of defence after a long chain of ugly capitalism. Defective aircraft, negative training, insufficient manpower, budget cuts… The aviation industry is dynamic. In Malaysia, dynamic became hyper-vigorous with the introduction of low cost air travel. Hence began the era of stretched Ringgits, overworked aircrew, and exhausted airplanes. You don’t compress a giant reservoir of high-matter-supercharged particles and not expect a supernova. Even an escaped revved-up particle may ensue catastrophe.

(But slowing down is not an option, because who cares about human lives when money is at stake.)

Every time there is a breach in flight safety, aircraft manufacturers, airline operators, they stand much to lose. My best friend is in PR, so I know a thing or two about narratives. The primary narrator is king. So the aviation giants trip over themselves for narration rights. And then they point fingers- not at the faulty party, because ka-ching-ka-ching- but at the easiest to blame. The easiest to blame, by nature of their jobs, are almost always the pilots. (Even when they have nothing on the pilots, they will kill their own mothers to find something.)

Of course.

They don’t reveal that “pilot error” is the symptom of an extensive disease. “Pilot error” is that tiny lump on the breast of a stage 4 breast cancer patient.

But “pilot error” rolls off the tongue better than “rush culture that results from bereft turn around time”. So when stray strands of hair escapes the ponytail, they don’t tuck it back into the the safe bonds of the scrunchy. Nope. They snip off the beautiful lock of hair. They don’t think, ‘this scrunchy needs changing’, or ‘this ponytail needs a redo’. No. They say ‘find me the biggest pair of scissors ever’.

I’m a pilot. I know shit about finance, but I do know that it’s not okay to replace a culture of safety with a culture of greed. It’s easy to blur the lines between greed and fiscal survival, so here’s a suggestion. Heed the symptoms. Altitude busts? Near mid air collisions? Runway incursions? Those are symptoms. They keep popping up no matter how many pilots you sacrifice, because you can treat the symptoms, but it’s useless if you don’t treat the disease.

Again, an incident is the ultimate expression of an inefficient system.

Would you, pilot execs, want your mothers flying on an aircraft that was dubiously dispatch, by pilots with more monthly hours than they do pubic hair (assuming no Brazilian wax)?

Oh wait, it’s worth it for that promotion.