In September the German Transrapid maglev train hit a maintenance truck in northwestern Germany. A few days later, in October, a Brazilian Boeing 737 plunged into the Amazon jungle after a high-altitude collision with a small Legacy jet. The German and Brazilian accidents rated headlines: the German incident involved a maglev, a train that reaches 280 mph-plus because it glides on a magnetic cushion; and the collision was Brazil’s worst air disaster. If probes into incidents like these resulted in effective prevention measures, transportation accidents of all kinds would rate headline treatment because of their rarity.
Recent research by David Embrey, Ph.D., suggests a reason transportation accidents are far from rare could lie in the way probes are conducted.
The managing director of Human Reliability, an ergonomics consultancy in England, Dr. Embrey originally trained as a physicist and holds degrees in physics, ergonomics and applied psychology. He has published more than a hundred papers and reports and co-authored two books from over two decades of work in the petrochemical, nuclear power, rail transport, aerospace and marine sectors.
Asked about the two accidents by The Ergonomics Report
This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2006-10-11.