13-14/2014 In the air and underground
Two subjects in particular kept us on our toes in the past two weeks. One of them, the way that relations between Ukraine and Russia developed, will be addressed by us in our next issue, ITJ 15-16/2014, which features our Eastern Europe Special. The other one was the hitherto unexplained disappearance – at least until we put this issue of the ITJ to bed on the evening of 25 March – of MH370, Malaysia Airlines’ scheduled flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It was lost without (almost) any trace on 8 March. A lot has been written – and even more speculated – on the fate of this Boeing B777-200ER. We have nothing to add to all the rumours and opinions of self-styled experts concerning how a wide-body jet carrying 239 people and with four pallets and three ULDs of freight in its belly-hold can «dissolve into thin air». We simply hope that the aeroplane’s secret will be revealed soon. The three likeliest scenarios are sabotage by a crew member, a hijacking or a catastrophe, such as a fire that temporarily incapacitated everyone on board. In the last case the aircraft could have continued to fly for hours on auto-pilot until it ran out of fuel.
I couldn’t get a potential fire out of my mind, and my thoughts led me to another fire that took place 15 years ago. On 24 March 1999, 39 people were killed in a deva-stating fire in the middle of the almost 12 km long Mont Blanc road tunnel, deep under the Alps between France and Italy. It was triggered by a reefer lorry that caught fire under circumstances that have never been completely clarified until this day. The tunnel was subsequently closed for three years, and even before it was reopened there was another underground conflagration triggered by the collision of two trucks in the 17 km Gotthard tunnel on 24 October 2001. Eleven people were killed in the disaster in the world’s third-longest road tunnel. Since then a lot has been undertaken all across Europe to increase safety in these key bottlenecks, which are of great importance not only to us logisticians. There have been no further catastrophes of this type since then. On page 16 you can read all about how the international shipping industry in turn has also become safer in the recent past.
Head of aviation