Misrepresenting Reality - Limitations of Accident Documentaries for Airline Pilot Training

Open Access
Article
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Simon Cookson

Abstract: Previous research indicates that many pilots believe studying past accidents is important for current airline safety. Furthermore, TV documentaries are a common source of information about accidents. This study examines how accurately the 1990 Avianca 052 accident is represented in one influential documentary. The analysis compares the documentary with information in the NTSB accident report and finds that extensive and significant changes were made. The adaptations include: use of an omniscient narrator, language change, dialog transformations, paralinguistics, the addition of visual information and other voices. The implication is that the documentary is a simplified and inaccurate representation of the Avianca 052 accident. This is problematic because the documentary continues to be widely used as an information source. The paper concludes with a caution concerning the use of accident documentaries in airline pilot training.

Keywords: airline accidents, Avianca 052, aviation safety, CRM training, TV documentary

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1002498

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