Dr. Alan Diehl

Contact the Author | DrAlDiehl@aol.com

About the Book

Air Safety Investigators: Using Science to Save Lives—One Crash at a Time

Air Safety Investigators describes how investigators determine the causes of each crash and recommend ways to prevent future tragedies. This is also the story of how one young engineer became an aviation psychologist to address the most common cause of accidents … “pilot error.” In the foreword, aviation expert Nance describes the author’s critical role in improving aviation safety.

Diehl explains how pilots use their skill, experience, judgment and training to avert most disasters, while courageous flight attendants struggle to save lives when accidents occur. The author interviewed many of these individuals and vividly tells their stories, while explaining what passengers can do to protect themselves. The author also describes how he and other aircraft designers employed ergonomic concepts and crashworthiness features to save lives.

Diehl witnessed firsthand the dangers of flying in Navy jets before joining the National Transportation Safety Board “Go Team” to investigate airline accidents. He developed procedures for documenting the underlying causes of “pilot error” and methods of reducing such problems.

The FAA soon hired him and he ensured cutting-edge programs, like airline Crew Resource Management training, were mandated to reduce accidents. But, when he discovered senior officials were misleading Congress, he exposed them, and they retaliated by using sky marshals to harass him. He then became the USAF safety guru.

The military assigned him important tasks such as helping establish a system to monitor the safety of commercial airlines transporting troops and cargo for the Pentagon. He also provided training to the military test pilots and Air Force One crews. He received numerous accolades from the various services and was nominated as civilian of the year.

But, when he investigated a major fratricide caused by a well-connected general and refused to go along with a Pentagon directed cover-up, he was fired. Realizing the safety of America’s GIs was at stake, he filed a whistle blowing complaint. Time magazine broke the story of his safety crusade. The media and Congress soon requested he analyze military and civilian aviation problems.