Il fondatore di Aviation Herald si racconta ad Aviazione Civile

by Seaking

La collaborazione e stima reciproca tra la Associazione Italiana Aviazione Civile e Simon Hradecky, fondatore dell’ormai famosissimo sito di informazione su incidenti aerei – piccoli o grandi che siano – Aviation Herald (AVH), si sono consolidate nel corso degli anni arrivando al punto di considerarsi reciprocamente fonti di informazioni affidabili, da consultare giornalmente.

Nel corso del 2016, inoltre, una raccolta fondi organizzata da Aviazione Civile ha contribuito significativamente a sostenere AVH con una donazione di 300€.

Sulla scia di questa consolidata collaborazione e stima reciproca, abbiamo ricevuto e pubblichiamo molto volentieri questo editoriale scritto per noi da Simon che sviluppa ulteriormente  le informazioni pubblicate sul suo sito oggi, in occasione del 20.000 esimo record classificato, fornendoci ancora maggiori elementi e spunti di riflessione.


Dear Members of AviazioneCivile!

Following its opening on May 12th 2008 The Aviation Herald today (Jan 20th 2017) celebrates the 20,000th coverage released, time for sort of an editorial to present some personal summary of the past nearly 9 years.

Since the opening of the website The Aviation Herald enjoys a steadily growing readership, that so far resulted in 418,251,204 page hits (average 131,732 page hits per day) and 175,005,862 visitors (average 55,119 visitors per day), in words more than 418 million page hits by more than 175 million visitors.

In January 2017 we so far have had 368,421 page hits per day in average and 142,609 visitors per day in average.

Since 2014 The Aviation Herald has been consistently amongst the top 50,000 websites of the world.

Records in a single day were 1,203,333 page hits and 577,244 visitors on Aug 3rd 2016, see Accident: Emirates B773 at Dubai on Aug 3rd 2016, long landing, go around without thrust results in runway impact, aircraft on fire

To give you an idea of the evolution The Aviation Herald took: on January 16th 2009, following the Hudson River emergency landing see Accident: US Airways A320 at New York on Jan 15th 2009, ditched in Hudson River we had 29,348 page hits by 16,537 visitors (at that time an almost incredible number far beyond all hopes I ever had!), on Jun 2nd 2009, see Crash: Air France A332 over Atlantic on Jun 1st 2009, aircraft impacted ocean we had 89,930 page hits by 43,892 visitors, on March 8th 2014, see Crash: Malaysia B772 over Gulf of Thailand on Mar 8th 2014, aircraft missing, data indicate flight MH-370 ended west of Australia, first MH-370 debris identified, search suspended, we had 703,827 page hits by 343,786 visitors.

The steady growth is also visible in the annual traffic data:

In 2016 there were 106,460,138 page hits by 43,963,043 visitors, in 2015 70,453,165 page bits by 35,181,649 visitors, in 2014 63,255,134 page hits by 28,757,208 visitors, in 2013 53,241,960 page hits by 22,315,963 visitors, in 2012 46,447,954 page hits by 15,646,079 visitors, in 2011 31,899,482 page hits by 11,788,254 visitors, in 2010 24,703,709 page hits by 8,838,648 visitors, in 2009 13,524,941 page hits by 4,961,726 visitors and in 2008 1,264,721 page hits by 843,721 visitors.

The 20 most read coverages so far have been:
01. 4,956,654 reads: Crash: Malaysia B772 over Gulf of Thailand on Mar 8th 2014, aircraft missing, data indicate flight MH-370 ended west of Australia, first MH-370 debris identified, search suspended
02. 1,726,190 reads: Crash: Egypt A320 over Mediterranean on May 19th 2016, fire on board, traces of explosives found
03. 1,438,937 reads: Crash: Germanwings A320 near Barcelonnette on Mar 24th 2015, first officer alone in cockpit, initiated rapid descent, aircraft impacted terrain
04. 1,171,683 reads: Crash: Air France A332 over Atlantic on Jun 1st 2009, aircraft entered high altitude stall and impacted ocean
05. 1,154,582 reads: Indonesia Asia A320 over Java Sea on Dec 28th 2014, aircraft lost height and impacted waters, loss of rudder travel limiter due to maintenance
06. 1,104,604 reads: Accident: Emirates B773 at Dubai on Aug 3rd 2016, long landing, go around without thrust results in runway impact, aircraft on fire
07. 939,999 reads: Crash: Malaysia B772 near Donetsk on Jul 17th 2014, aircraft was shot down from separatist controlled ground

08. 920,128 reads: Crash: National Air Cargo B744 at Bagram on Apr 29th 2013, lost height shortly after takeoff following load shift and stall
09. 869,618 reads: Crash: Metrojet A321 over Sinai on Oct 31st 2015, broke up in climb over Sinai, preliminary report states no unlawful interference
10. 694,066 reads: Crash: Flydubai B738 at Rostov on Don on Mar 19th 2016, lost height on go around after stabilizer moved nose down following holding for 2 hours
11. 676,686 reads: Accident: Asiana B772 at San Francisco on Jul 6th 2013, touched down short of the runway, broke up and burst into flames
12. 579,980 reads: Crash: LAMIA Bolivia RJ85 near Medellin on Nov 28th 2016, electrical problems, no fuel, impact with terrain
13. 490,779 reads: Crash: Transasia AT72 at Taipei on Feb 4th 2015, right engine failed, left engine shut down, aircraft rolled sharply and lost height shortly after takeoff
14. 477,997 reads: LAM E190 over Botswana/Namibia on Nov 29th 2013, captain intentionally crashed aircraft
15. 434,628 reads: Crash: Tatarstan B735 at Kazan on Nov 17th 2013, crashed on go-around
16. 376,123 reads: ANA B788 near Takamatsu on Jan 16th 2013, battery problem and burning smell on board (including JAL Boston, Ethiopian London and JAL Tokyo events)
17. 374,701 reads: Crash: Swiftair MD83 over Mali on Jul 24th 2014, aircraft lost altitude
18. 361,912 reads: Crash: Sukhoi SU95 over Indonesia on May 9th 2012, aircraft impacted mountain
19. 356,435 reads: Crash: UPS A306 at Birmingham on Aug 14th 2013, contacted trees and touched down outside airport
20. 326,505 reads: Accident: British Airways B772 at Las Vegas on Sep 8th 2015, rejected takeoff due to engine fire, engine failure uncontained

My most memorable coverages were:
34. 205,958 reads: Accident: US Airways A320 at New York on Jan 15th 2009, ditched in Hudson River
45. 183,932 reads: News: The human factor named “Simon Hradecky” and the team of man and machine
1142. 27,205 reads: Incident: Blue Dart B752 at Mumbai and Bangalore on Jun 9th 2010, “mowed” runway edge lights on takeoff
1242. 25,682 reads: News: The rescue of Turkish Airlines Flight 1123
7642. 8,043 reads: News: The “other side” of the radio – Ozjet in distress at Norfolk Island on Dec 29th 2007

What started out with just a few contacts and a limited number of sources that were scanned daily, has grown into a large network of regular sources and contacts spanning 5 digit figures and more than thousand (official) websites that are daily scanned for new information like preliminary and final reports, notifications of new occurrences, safety alerts, emergency airworthiness directives and other aviation safety related information.

A few e-mails per day in 2008 have grown to about 300-500 per day with peaks of more than 1000 e-mails being processed per day, disabling me to reply to every e-mail, however, I make it a point to respond to every e-mail that results in a coverage. As the e-mail figures alone already make clear, the workload has grown over time, with the increasing number of occurrences being discovered I was thus forced to redefine the scope of coverages, e.g. dropping coverages of medical emergencies and unruly passengers, in order to keep the work load manageable.

Ever since The Aviation Herald started I have repeatedly heard the question: “Simon, do you ever sleep?”. Yes, I do indeed, around about 8 hours each day. An alerting system is in place that enables trusted sources to wake me up around the clock in case of crashes or serious accidents. And I maintain a “holy morning”, each Sunday morning is reserved exclusively for myself – and I go bunkers if an aircraft destroys this Sunday morning routine (it has happened) absolutely requiring immediate breaking coverage.

I estimate a “regular” coverage like an engine shut down, loss of cabin pressure or other frequent occurrences to take about one hour per coverage in average. Any English/German preliminary, interim, factual or final report takes about 2 hours in average, any other language preliminary, interim, factual or final report takes about 4 hours in average. Overall, a well manageable workload is about 7 coverages per day (on weekends 3 coverages) which usually, including checking e-mails and scanning results take about 8 hours of work. I recall days where 17 coverages were released, but on those days I really went beyond my capacity needing in excess of 16 hours to research and write all those coverages. Just imagine when an accident investigation unit “throws” out 6 or 7 final reports on one day (as has just recently happened)!

It may come as a surprise to many readers scanning the reader comments, that the reader comments are indeed moderated. Every comment passes over my desk. Automatic defenses deal with a number of “regulars” trying to spam or troll the board which results in up to 2000 (!!) rejected messages per day. In addition one up to 10 messages will be treated manually by myself every day. This happens as I process my e-mail in between doing focussed work on research of coverages, whenever I have time to “relax” from high concentration for a minute or two and check the e-mail. The moderation principle is simple: in following the guidelines laid down for posting comments I prefer to not overmoderate but leave some leeway to discussions become even more robust. There is nothing wrong with a robust debate on factual bases, moderation jumps in when one of the participants ran out of arguments and becomes personal. I prefer to have a few complaints about lack of moderation rather than hearing complaints of censorships.

Funny as it is, when Ryanair threatened legal action against The Aviation Herald, this was not over editorial content, but was directed against the reader comments which Ryanair had perceived entirely unmoderated, in particular three reader comments were in the middle of that legal debate that Ryanair perceived as libelious towards Ryanair and factually wrong. Those three comments had, immediately after they were posted and long before Ryanair complained about them, already raised an eyebrow with me and I had done a very deep consideration of these comments as I felt those comments were very, very close to the border line of being acceptable or perhaps even beyond. In the end I decided that the comments were JUST within the boundaries of freedom of opinion verbalising the personal opinion of the reader and NOT stating facts. When Ryanair sent their complaint, our lawyer reviewed the claim by Ryanair and felt very uneasy basically agreeing with the lawyer of Ryanair until I sent my opinion of those comments, about 4 pages of write up arguing all aspects of freedom of opinion, facts, opinion, meaning of what was being written and so on. Our lawyer talked to colleagues and my opinion was fully approved. In the end Ryanair also accepted that opinion and the threat was withdrawn.

The Aviation Herald frequently gets quoted by other media. One example were the ACARS messages transmitted by MS-804 just before the aircraft began to lose altitude over the Mediterranean. Based on initial statements in Egypt and France all media around the globe focussed on terrorism and assumed the crash had been the result of an explosion on board. When we released the ACARS messages, all media around the planet turned around within 24 hours and focussed on the fire on board. While this may suggest that our responsibility for coverages has increased and we may have added additional layers of research quality assurance, I saw no reason to change anything in how we research, verify and crosscheck our information. There is no difference, as far as I am concerned, if a coverage attracts one reader or a billion readers. Each of them deserves as accurate as possible information.

I already indicated above that there are many websites scanned daily by myself. AviazioneCivile is one of the pilot fora indeed, that does get scanned by the AVH at least once every weekday.

This concludes a brief review of the past almost 9 years of operation of The Aviation Herald. And we’ll continue – with the support by our readers – in the years to come.

Simon Hradecky

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