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Rickover’s and airmail pilots’ disaster avoidance method

The investigation of what went wrong in Israel’s army and government will start only after the war in Gaza is over, but it is already known that there was early warning.

Soldiers on the border who saw Hamas’s military exercises and its bulldozers coming toward the border in what was supposed to be “no-man’s land,” as well as people in nearby villages who heard noises of underground digging, all communicated repeatedly to the higher-ups.

It is not yet known whose desk dismissed the warnings or why. If they reached members of the government, it appears that they never reached the desk of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.

Since that October event, grave mistakes have plagued Boeing in the US, where the CEO just resigned.

These events brought to my mind Chiles James’ book Inviting Disasters, which I read more than two decades ago. It documents a range of catastrophic events and summarizes lessons on how to mitigate or prevent them.

I shall refer only to those case studies in the book that are relevant the o events mentioned above, as most of the book examines how to better manage complex technological risks rather than overcoming human errors. The solutions the book lists are timeless. If they were known and implemented, chances are that some recent disasters could have been averted.

Here are two cases, one related to the government and the other to the military.

Welcome aboard

When instruments warning of bad weather did not yet exist, the US airmail service was losing pilots and planes at high rates. The pilots finally convinced their higher-ups that managers for the postal services at the airport were giving orders to fly even though the pilots worried about the bad weather.

The pilots, wanting a prompt solution, requested