After another jetliner mysteriously went missing without a trace on Sunday, cable news hosts are yet again filling time by speculating about what could have happened to Air Asia flight QZ8501 over the Java Sea.
On “Fox and Friends Sunday,” co-host Anna Kooiman wondered if foreign pilots’ use of the metric system played a role in the plane’s disappearance.
“Let’s talk about the differences. Even when we think about temperature, Fahrenheit or Celsius, kilometers or miles. Everything about their training could bow similar but different, right?” Kooiman asked former Federal Aviation Authority spokesman Scott Brenner.
Brenner told Kooiman that the difference between American and foreign pilots is actually the latter’s reliance on autopilot.
“So it’s not just differences in the way that we measure things, it’s a difference in the way that our pilots are actually trained?” Kooiman kept on. “Is it not as safe in that part of the world? Because our viewers may be wondering, ‘Is it safe, is it not safe?'”
Brenner reassured Kooiman that air travel is safe and that U.S. pilots in particular are well-trained to handle unforeseen flying conditions.
The discussion was reminiscent of media coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 last spring, when each day that turned up no evidence of the jet saw cable hosts fill the void with wild theories about its disappearance.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.