A quick survey of modern aviation's most devastating and highly publicized crashes reveals a simple truth: almost all were caused by one of three things.
1. Pilot error
3. Improper maintenance
Of these, I have always considered the third most tragic because it is completely avoidable. Strict guidelines exist for a reason, and failure to abide by them - whether prompted by laziness, incompetence or greed - is blatantly tempting fate.
That being the case, I couldn't decide whether to be appalled or just disgusted at the news that a Boston aircraft mechanic last week noticed that an Air France A340 was missing 30 screws in an area where the wing and fuselage join.
The plane had just come back from routine maintenance - in China.
With no offense intended to the Chinese people, it's a proven fact that China does not adhere to the same standards, codes and accountability in product production that other nations are held to.
Which begs the question - why do other nations keep outsourcing to them? Are we really so incapable of innovation and manufacturing management that we can't run a business without artificially depressed labor prices? Do we, the public, lack the ability to discipline ourselves enough to say no to toxic toys, poisoned food and other calamities unless and until they begin to dramatically kill us?
I appreciate that costs are rising and budgets are tight, especially now with Christmas soon upon us. But this is quite possibly the best time to make a change. Right now, while we're all focused on "things", money and how they compare to what's truly important. Let's determine now, while there's still time, that in the coming year we'll discipline ourselves to say NO to imported crap and make a conscious effort to really pay attention to what we're doing, buying and tacitly condoning.
Because I don't know about you, but I don't ever want to have to look in the mirror and acknowledge that my laziness or greed caused the kind of catastrophe that our constant outsourcing courts every day.