You have to get past the glitzy opening in order to appreciate this series. The teaser pounds you over the head with drums, shouts, shock cuts, and gaudy banners.
After that is an exceptionally well-done program of an air crash, or a near crash, followed by an astoundingly thorough investigation of the causes. The attitude of Sherlock Holmes or the Mayo Clinic is applied. Some time, but never too much, is spent with survivors if there are any. The emphasis is on the incident itself and the circumstances that caused it.
In this episode an airplane with 152 people on board is flying at some 33,000 feet across Venezuela when it appears to go out of control, the pilot reports a flame out in both engine, the airplane drops 12,000 feet in a one minute, and then crashes into the Venezuelan bush. It's not particularly well directed, compared to other episodes. During the crisis the camera becomes excessively shaky and spasmodic, the musical score overwhelms, as if there weren't already enough drama on the screen.
The investigation reveals that the airplane stalled at a high altitude because it was overloaded and was lifted too high by a sudden updraft from a thunderstorm. The proper response to a stall is to nose over and increase thrust but the pilot did neither. The "cause" appears to have been a combination of poor planning, bad luck, and pilots' FOOZLING it.
I mentioned the diagnostic techniques of the Mayo Clinic before. If you present to the Mayo Clinic with stomach pain and an ulcer is discovered, the team not only treats the ulcer but goes on to ask why it developed. Once the causes are found, the team looks for the cause of the causes, and so on.
That's what this investigative team did. Planning, weather, and pilot error, yes. But why? The final explanation is necessarily complex but is clearly laid out. One of the problems was that the airline itself was in financial difficulties and had had trouble paying its employees, so that the pilot was force to take a second job as a bartender. Recommendations were made in order to correct the failures.
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