I'll again rely on my aviation experience to comment on the latest aviation accident. While the investigation continues over the crash of a UPS freighter near Birmingham, Alabama, the preliminary conclusions are not comforting. Every system has checked out so far; the engines were operating correctly, the flight controls were in order and matched the yoke position(s) and there was no evidence of catastrophic failure and/or a fire or explosion before impact. It appears yet again that the pilot(s) actions contributed to the loss of the aircraft. In this case the pilots were landing on a shorter, lesser used runway which had a hill thrown in just before the threshold. The approach requires a steep glide slope and the aircraft was descending at an excessive rate, which caused an alarm to sound in the cockpit. Throw in a dark night with the unfamiliar approach and you have a recipe for disaster. Veteran pilots have already commented on the spatial disorientation that is endemic when landing at night on this runway.
Let me again say that if I am wrong I'll be the first to come out with an apology and retraction; but the evidence is alarming. When I commented on the Asiana crash in San Francisco I alluded to the advanced computers and instruments available to help pilots in today's modern airliners. Still we have had at least three major accidents in a short period of time that appear to be the fault of the pilots. The Asiana pilots basically blew the approach, the Southwest pilots landed hard nose first and now it appears the UPS pilots also blew an approach. There has been an ongoing discussion that the availability and use of computers has eroded the skills of some pilots. Whatever the cause, I hope someone is as alarmed as I am over the human involvement in these recent accidents. My mother said tragedy always comes in threes. I hope that means we won't be hearing about anymore crashes.