After a crash the first thing they look for is "the black box".
Many days after Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash landed at San Francisco International Airport there is no official explanation for what caused the incident. Officials have said the Boeing 777, which had flown from Seoul in South Korea, was traveling slower than recommended on its final approach, though it could be up to a year before a definite cause for this is determined.
In the exhaustive investigation that follows, all factors -- mechanical, operational, and human performance -- are taken into account.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the government agency that investigates all major aviation accidents. Its purpose is to explain accidents and provide safety recommendations. That is an interesting word - recommendations. Since it was formed in 1967, the NTSB has completed more than 132,000 aviation accident investigations.
The United States has a habit of spending whatever it takes to finish an air crash investigation. When Trans World Airlines Flight 800 crashed into the Atlantic in 1996, the US spent millions of dollars, with thousands of government agents, a little army of people taking every little piece of wreckage - off of the ocean floor.
More than 132,000 aviation accident investigations. Some accidents were of small single engine planes. Some were of the size of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 with hundreds of people on board. But all were investigated, deeply and immediately, with no consideration to cost. All so that we can make recommendations.
We simply must know what happened, not matter how long it takes, not matter how much it costs. But why?
Because not flying is simply not an option.
The technology of air travel has changed the way that we live, work and play. Air travel has become so common that the thought of saying "hey, this is just too dangerous" is just not something that we are willing to accept. The technology of air travel has become a right, not a privilege.
Crash landings like Asiana Airlines Flight 214 or Trans World Airlines Flight 800 make the news, and thankfully are very rare. But who determines what is acceptable frequency? What if such tragic air accidents happened once a month? Once a week? What would it take before we hit the tipping point where continuing to fly is simply not acceptable?
One person dies in the US every 13 minutes in a Car Accident- 115 killed each day. This must be an acceptable number since auto sales are up this year. Is this why Google is so hot on launching technology that makes cars that drive themselves?
Such tipping points are all around us in our every day lives, but we ignore them. We know that smoking is bad for you, but cigarettes still exist. We know that chemicals in our foods is unhealthy, but we still eat manufactured foods. Don't even get me started on soda. Is there anyone on the planet that can say that drinking soda or smoking cigarettes is GOOD for you?
What about in your own business? How many bad customer experience stories were recorded by your own company's "black box" but were deemed to be acceptable? How many business lessons were observed and discussed - but then simply ignored - deemed to be well below the tipping point of requiring any corrective action.
Remember the "Miracle on the Hudson?" Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger gained fame when he successfully ditched US Airways Flight 1549, which had been disabled by striking a flock of Canada geese during its initial climb out, over the Hudson River off Manhattan, New York City, on January 15, 2009. All of the 155 passengers and crew aboard the aircraft survived.
What would Sully say, if he reviewed your business flight data recorder?