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COMMENT.

Aeroscare post the MH17 crash

FOR people worried by reported jihadi threats to target airlines, things have got messier after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 with a surface- to- air missile as it flew over a rebelheld area in Ukraine. The loss of 298 lives, barely four months after another Malaysia Airlines flight with 239 people on board went missing, has raised questions about the safety of civil aviation.

But first a few facts. Only eight other airliners have been mistakenly shot down by combat jets or with missiles since 1955, including a Russian passenger plane with 78 people on board that was brought down in Ukraine in 1983. And though tragedies like those involving the two Malaysia Airlines flights generate huge media attention, air travel remains one of the safest modes of transportation.

According to the US National Transportation Safety Board, there were over 33,500 fatalities in road accidents in America in 2012 as against 449 in aviation accidents.

More than anything else, the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner in Ukraine underscores one key fact -- airlines and air traffic controllers were following established rules and regulations of civil aviation, but the rules of war changed on the ground. From the information emerging so far, it appears that a Russian- made Buk missile battery -- which was manned by Russian personnel, according to some reports -- targeted the civilian airliner after mistaking it for a military aircraft.

With reports suggesting pro- Russia separatists have started cleaning up the crash site, a transparent international probe is the need of the hour.

Ukraine has called for an international investigation and the US has offered to help. But it remains unclear whether investigators will be able to have unfettered access to the crash site that is in rebel- held territory located a short distance from the Russian frontier. Experts point out there are some 30,000 flights a day in the US alone but the number of accidents is minimal.

Flights passing over hotspots like Ukraine and the Middle East are a whole other matter.

One option is diverting flights away from such global hot spots but that could be difficult for a civil aviation sector used to measures to save every dollar. Another is equipping all commercial airliners with measures to cope with missile attacks -- a very expensive proposition -- or improving the real- time tracking of civilian flights so that they can be alerted to avoid threats from the ground. Clearly, the global aviation industry and regulators will have to get their act together.

Reality as soap opera on TV

I THINK the biggest injustice done to Masterchef US was airing it alongside a season of the indisputably better Australian version.

What's the deal with the show anyway? Does plate- smashing shows make for ground- breaking television? The endless drama on Masterchef US is mind- numbing. I remember this one episode when a woman, adjudged the best performer in a certain challenge, stood by with a devious expression as her competitors nailed the dish. I almost thought I was watching The Bold and The Beautiful: her perfect lipstick and fake eyelashes didn't help. I wonder why contestants of a reality cookery show need to wear fancy clothes, high heels and heavy makeup -- especially when several women contestants are clearly ill at ease as they traipse to the judges' counter in seven- inch heels.

Sad part is, this charade seems to be the USP of the show, as is evident in each contestant's desire to berate the others. As for the judges, their efforts to give the show a boot camp- like feel are ridiculous. When a woman said she had a penchant for dating chefs, Gordon Ramsay told her she should continue doing so because "you are never going to be one yourself." Haha? In all the seasons of Masterchef Australia, Matt, George and Gary have never resorted to such antics even though they too are disappointed by dishes every so often. Of course, this show too thrives on the drama of the contestants' stories -- divorces, illnesses and what not. But how they do it holds a lesson in how to subtly peddle drama without losing the plot.

Masterchef US seems to reduce every individual into a dour caricature of the soap opera vamp, with the show having about as much reality as that Kardashian farce.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:4EXUR
Date:Jul 20, 2014
Words:742
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