AvioRadar editors desk comment on media articles related to the plane crash in Pula

The editorial staff of the AvioRadar portal, provoked by the unprofessional and judgmental articles of the Croatian media related to the crash of a sports plane in Pula on March 31, 2023, issued a comment on the same, denying the unprofessional and ignorant articles.

In particular, we refer to the statements of the alleged aviation expert, Alen Šćuric, to the Croatian media. The statements of the mentioned Mr. Šćuric are transmitted in full:

“These are all amateurs who fly, people who don’t have much knowledge, they don’t fly for five or six months and then fly a bit. These are people who don’t have licenses and don’t even undergo constant health checks. And then, unfortunately, such accidents happen often with small planes,” says Šuric and adds that in the last two years, three plane crashes have occurred in Croatia.”

First of all, it is necessary to clarify who is allowed to fly the aircraft that crashed near Pula. He could have been a professional pilot of commercial or military aircraft behind the wheel, and we don’t know yet. It is unprofessional and irresponsible to call any pilots amateurs because the worst they can be amateurs in the sense that they are not engaged in this work professionally.

The statement that “people who don’t have a lot of knowledge don’t fly for five or six months and then fly something” is incorrect and, to say the least, offensive. Each pilot to issue a PPL (private pilot’s license) with SEP (single engine piston) authorization must attend 130 hours of lectures divided into 9 subjects and pass 9 internal theoretical exams and 10 exams before the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency. After that, it is necessary to accumulate (at least) 45 hours of flight with an additional 1.5 hours of test flight with an authorized examiner. In their training, every pilot goes through simulations of engine failure, loss of lift, engine failure on the runway, engine failure in the air, etc. EASA, the umbrella European organization for air navigation safety, prescribes what needs to be done and passed to pass the flight exam, and every (without exception) pilot from the EASA area must pass it.

The information that “these people do not have licenses” is completely incorrect. Every pilot must have a valid flight crew license to operate an aircraft. A private pilot’s license, for example, with a SEP (single-engine piston) authorization is issued for two years with the condition of extension that the pilots, within the 12 months preceding the expiry date of the authorization, have 12 hours of flight in the relevant class, including at least 6 hours as PIC (pilot-in-command), 12 take-offs and landings and a training flight of at least one hour with an authorized instructor. Another condition is passing the so-called proficiency check, i.e. test flight with an instructor.

The statement “they don’t even pass constant health checks” is completely incorrect because every flight personnel license holder must have a class 2/LAPL or class 1 medical certificate without which the pilot’s license is invalid. The condition for the validity of a pilot’s license is primarily the validity of a medical certificate. Class 2/LAPL is renewed with a complete medical examination every 5 years, and class 1 every year. Examinations are performed exclusively by authorized AME (aeromedical examiner) doctors, and the comprehensiveness of the examination is indicated by the fact that the initial examination usually lasts several hours.

Finally, the aforementioned expert comments, “To illustrate, a slightly stronger wind than 35 knots in a large plane will not even be felt, and it can cause problems for a small one – explains Šćuric”. To illustrate, a crosswind of 38 knots is the upper crosswind limit for an Airbus A320, and the “expert” comments that a 35-knot wind would not even be felt.

We hereby invite the media to verify the source of the data and the persons who present themselves as aviation and other experts. It is interesting how a person who does not have a single day of formal education in the field of transport and/or aviation calls dead pilots with valid license amateurs, that they do not have much knowledge, that they do not fly, that they do not have licenses and that they do not pass medical examinations.

COMMENT: Why is it dangerous, frivolous, and irresponsible to speculate about the causes of plane crashes?

In the shadow of recent events, we feel a responsibility to write a commentary on the reporting and speculation surrounding plane crashes. Below is a comment on something that should be “common sense” to all of us, but for some reason, well, it isn’t.

Whenever an aviation accident occurs, in Croatia, self-proclaimed “analysts” and “experts” emerge from their winter slumber, who, without a single day of work in aviation, without a single day of education related to aviation, dare to comment and talk about the accident that resulted in human casualties, and all just to get their five minutes of media fame. What is even sadder, in such situations, the media reporting their statements, put a photo of these same “experts” on the front page, which is not surprising because they probably insist on the same to build a cult of “painting the eyes” of the public because they are “experts” after all.

First of all, we want to remind journalists to be careful who they invite as guests or who they ask for a statement. Don’t agree to any “experts” and “analysts” if they don’t have one of the titles of a traffic faculty or a faculty that covers aeronautical engineering in their program, or if they don’t have the epaulets of a civilian or military pilot (airplanes or helicopters, not e.g. drones) on their shoulders. There is a considerable number of “experts” operating in the Croatian media space who build their “expertise” on “experience” that they do not have in reality. And when you find experienced professionals and invite them as guests or ask for a comment, don’t force speculation out of them.

Someone once said “Whenever we talk about a pilot who lost his life in a plane crash, we have to keep one thing in mind. He relied on the sum of all his knowledge and made a decision. He believed so strongly in that decision that he put his own life on it. That his decision was wrong is a tragedy, not stupidity. Every instructor, supervisor, anybody who ever talked to that pilot had an opportunity to influence his decision, so a little part of all of us leaves with the pilot we lost.” (author unknown).

This quote is an excellent summary of why one should not speculate about the causes of fatal plane crashes. How do you think it is for families who have to listen/read in the media how their son/brother/father/husband/grandson (the same applies to the female gender) is their “mistake” – as some irrelevant and ignorant “expert” would call the event. killed himself and his passengers? Don’t they have enough sadness, pain, and suffering, but do they need to additionally put the guilt and other victims that resulted from the tragedy on their backs? The responsibility lies with all of us, and the least, or the most, that we can do for these unfortunate families is not to make premature, immature, reckless, and dangerous conclusions.

Investigators have and are doing their job. They will inform the public on time about the news that should be conveyed objectively, without the need to add comments and conclusions. These are extremely sensitive topics and we must treat them accordingly. And we must give peace and respect to the victims and families, and let the official news and the results of the investigation give them information that they will then interpret as they wish, just like each of us.

The job of the media is to inform the public, and nothing will and cannot change that. However, it is one thing to convey the news, and it is quite another to ask someone to speculate, not to mention that in recent days we had the opportunity to see how many bid for the victims, long before the official confirmation.

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