NH expert: Human factor likely doomed Malaysian Flight 370
A jet engine lies crumpled in the underbrush in Dorchester, N.H., after the November 1999 discovery of the Learjet that had disappeared in December 1996. (UNION LEADER FILE)
He joined the Air Force Reserve in 1977 and flew a variety of transports, including the C-5 Galaxy, out of Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Mass. He retired as a colonel in 2001.
Currently, Martens is an aviation safety consultant who uses the lessons learned from the Dorchester crash to prevent such incidents in the future.
Martens said in his case study of the Dorchester crash, which he has presented numerous times, it became immediately clear that the pilots — who left Bridgeport Municipal Airport in Stratford, Conn., on Christmas Eve 1996 to fly to Lebanon, where they were supposed to pick up passengers bound for Northampton, N.Y. — were responsible for the crash of their plane.
A forester, who had been in the same area just a day earlier, found debris from the crash.
Martens subsequently obtained the transcript of the plane's cockpit voice recorder as well as the radar track of the Learjet's flight from Connecticut to within 20 miles of Lebanon Municipal Airport. The jet disappeared after making a missed approach to the Lebanon airport.
Little left intact
When the Learjet was found, very little of it was intact. "When a projectile at 200 miles per hour impacts a mountain, it obliterates it," Martens said. "It pulverizes it."
Every plane crash is a sequence of events, Martens said. Research into crashes has repeatedly found that the pilots, not the craft, were at fault.
"Quite frankly, there's a lot higher chance of human culpability," he said. "Ninety percent plus of accidents are due to human rather than mechanical factors and that keeps going up all the time.
"Everything in aviation, year in and year out, has been getting safer and human beings remain the weak element in the system," he said.
"The take-away for me is that the cry should be for credible information," he said, "and the information being reported, in my opinion, is marginally credible."
"After ten days, you're not going to keep a perfectly intact aircraft with people onboard secret. With each passing second, that becomes less of a possibility. The good news is the millions and millions of people who travel safely every day."
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