RE: Fear and Loathing at the Job Site

Subject: RE: Fear and Loathing at the Job Site
From: Richard Lippincott <richard -dot- lippincott -at- ae -dot- ge -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 12:30:23 -0400

Dan Goldstein wrote:

>Of course, it's _possible_ for a tech writer to kill someone with

It's more than possible. It's happened. Off the top of my head, I can think
of at least a half-dozen fatal aircraft crashes that have been attributed to
faults in the documentation. I'm not talking about small, general aviation
(i.e. "Cessna and Piper Cub") aircraft, I mean airliners or large military

The most famous and well documented of course is a few years further back,
the American Airlines DC-10 that went down in Chicago in May 1979. The port
engine fell off the wing shortly after takeoff, and this was traced back to
faulty procedures in the tech manual. I believe that with the exception of
9/11, the AA crash remains the worst air disaster in US history.

More recently, another American Airlines (I'm not trying to pick on them)
Airbus A300 crashed on November 12, 2001. The vertical stabilizer came off
the aircraft, in part due to wake turbulence. Investigation showed that the
flight manual procedure for recovering from wake turbulence lacked some
important information, and as a result the aircraft pilot took the wrong
action to recover from the turbulence. And the death toll is only about ten
less than the DC-10 crash noted above, so it is in the top two or three for
US aircraft disasters.

As I said, I can recall other cases as well, but I hope this is enough of an

>But I still think that doctors, truck drivers, and day care workers have a
better chance.

That could be, but when aerospace tech writers do it, it seems to happen in
a much more violent and highly visible fashion.

Rick Lippincott
Lockheed Martin
Saugus MA


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