Another flight has gone missing in Southeast Asia, and the gang at Fox News thinks they know the culprit: the metric system.
BBC News reported last night that AirAsia flight QZ8501 lost contact with air traffic controllers en route to Singapore early on December 28, local time. The incident created a discussion on the Sunday version of “Fox and Friends,” where host Anna Kooiman speculated that the cause could be “the metric system.”
The Fox and Friends crew hosted former FAA official Scott Brenner to talk about what may have happened to the AirAsia flight. Brenner ignores Kooiman’s speculation, and points out that one major difference between American and foreign trained pilots is in the use of autopilot. He doesn’t take the time to point out that the international air traffic system uses the same standards, regardless of where the aircraft may be flying.
Altitudes are expressed in thousands of feet, or in what are known as “flight levels.” The standard language of air traffic control is English. In pilot weather briefings, temperatures are given in Celsius, even in the United States. Distances are measured in nautical miles, not kilometers. In short, there is nothing about flight training in other countries that would be any different in terms of metric vs. the “Imperial,” or “English” system, from what American pilots learn.
Co-host Charles Payne gets into the act, asking Brenner about whether “cultural aspects” could have anything to do with the difference between foreign and American pilots.
A lot of these accidents recently have occurred in Asia. Beyond its training, what about cultural aspects? Certain respects for procedure. Not the ‘cowboy attitude,’ not the ‘I’m not gonna wait for someone to tell me to move out of the way.’ Could that play a role also?
It appears that Payne is suggesting that American pilots have less “respect for procedure,” than do foreign pilots, and that that is a good thing. Flight instructors will tell you that, when flying, having a lack of “respect for procedure” is often a good way to get yourself killed. The “cowboy attitude” of which Payne speaks is something that flight training attempts to remove from a pilot, for just that reason.
Also implicit in Payne’s comment is the suggestion that foreign pilots are taught to obey and not question, when American pilots, thanks to our “freedom,” can think for themselves. I can tell you, as someone who has spent many hours in the cockpit, that when air traffic control tells you something like, “Immediate left turn, course 250,” you don’t ask questions; you do it.
But, of course, the metric system is foreign and scary to Fox News, and their viewers. And, as we all know, nothing turns a Tea Partying Fox watcher on more than thinking that, in yet another area, America is superior to the rest of the world.
Here’s the video, via Fox News:
H/T: Raw Story | Image via screen capture