It was good to pick up this book in light of the recent 737 MAX incidents. Through the lens of the tragic loss of Air France 4590, readers are treated to an inside look at the world of aviation accident investigations.
Starting on that fateful summer day in 2000, and tracing the development and post-crash investigation, journalist Samme Chittum, on assignment for The Smithsonian, lays out the history of the Concorde and its darkest day. First person interviews fill the book as readers are treated to the story told by the people who lived it.
In aviation, Concorde is up on a pedestal. Although now relegated to the history books and consigned to a life articles in various museums, Concorde represents among the greatest technological accomplishments in human history.
As Chittum takes his readers through the accident investigation, across many nations and continents, he reveals the complexity of aviation accidents and the detailed investigations that are carried out. The smallest of leads are run down and evaluated. Almost all aviation accidents result not from a single cause, but rather from a chain of events. They can include human factors, mechanical factors, and environmental factors, to name a few.
As a pilot, I found this book interesting. However, in order to justify the publication, many chapters were dedicated to the development of Concorde and detailed descriptions of the accident. I found many parts to be quite dry. It padded out the story and gave me the whole picture, but parts of that picture could’ve been easily omitted.
I wouldn’t generally recommend this book because it provides too many granular technical details without explanation. A background in aviation is most helpful in engaging with this particular book. That said, if you’re curious about how the aviation community thinks about safety, and how complexity plays into aviation accidents, you might find this a decent read.
Would I recommend: NO