To tack on to the frequent questions following air incidents meta post from a slightly different angle:

There have been considerable edits to many recent questions, wholly stripping out any mention to the crash the other day. While I think this is highly admirable from a respect standpoint, a piece of me is not convinced of the necessity of doing so (and I'm not at all suggesting rollbacks).

Do we have a policy of not talking about specific recent aviation disasters out of respect for the dead? What is an acceptable timeframe for avoiding discussion (this can be any mention)?

If an official report is published within that mourning period, are we free to reference it?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Whose "mourning period"? Different religions and cultures have different "official" mourning periods, and each individual has a period during which (s)he mourns, some never get over it. We'd never be able to talk about the causes of a crash. Not trying to be PC, just pointing out that this would be an incredibly difficult "rule" to implement & enforce. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Mar 27, 2015 at 12:30
  • $\begingroup$ @FreeMan he's asking about the supposed non-written mourning period of this site, but there is no such thing. $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Mar 27, 2015 at 12:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico answers my question. should we, then? $\endgroup$
    – Erich
    Mar 27, 2015 at 12:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico that could be covered by the "culture". We definitely have a culture here at SE. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Mar 27, 2015 at 12:37
  • $\begingroup$ @FreeMan agreed on enforcement, and that's definitely part of the conversation. $\endgroup$
    – Erich
    Mar 27, 2015 at 12:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I do not see any of the StackExchange sites as a place to "talk about things". If you want to talk, find a forum. SE is a place for questions and answers that expand knowledge, not encourage speculation or express opinions. $\endgroup$
    – abelenky
    Mar 27, 2015 at 17:49
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @abelenky if you want to be pedantic, maybe i should have said "write about". i'm sure you know what i meant. $\endgroup$
    – Erich
    Mar 28, 2015 at 0:31
  • $\begingroup$ erich, I believe that @abelenky was trying to say that this site is not intended to generate discussions (whether you "talk about" or "write about" them). It's intended for specific questions with specific answers and not conversations. Maybe in your question it would be good to ask if we have a policy of not referring to specific disasters rather than "talking about" them. I believe that he was just suggesting a minor edit to how you asked. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Jun 15, 2017 at 17:38

5 Answers 5


The edits are mostly to eliminate the speculation about the accident in accordance with the off-topic rules. The other question hidden under that speculation is very often a valid question that could stand alone.

This has no basis on mourning the dead that may or may not have occurred in an accident.

If a conclusive accident report exists then we should be free to reference it no matter how soon it was released.

I do disagree with some of the edits that remove all reference to the accident. You can make a question in relation to it but not make it a basis of speculation. It's a hard to define line but a important one.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I agree that some of the edits today were mere mentions to put a question in context, not actual speculation. Some even seemed to be trying pretty hard to avoid and not invite speculation and still sparked edit wars and close votes. It does seem that maybe we need to communicate a little more clearly that the policy is that speculation about recent events is not allowed, not that any mention of them is not allowed. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Mar 27, 2015 at 20:26

I have been one of the primary editors of those questions because I feel very strongly on the topic.

I think the question is valid however, my motivation does not specifically consider the "mourning period" but rather the human decency that leads me to believe that we should do precisely nothing, so far as is possible, to add to the speculation and nonsense.

I used to frequent PPrune, but gave it up long ago as it became overrun with speculation, nonsense and troll and journalist feeding. A quick glance back there shows me that nothing has changed.

When this site opened, it was a breath of fresh air. Factual (mostly) and devoid of the type of nonsense I refer to.

If you are a long time user or viewer of PPRune, you will know that it contains many assertions, quotes and answers from people who clearly have no clue about what they are talking about, MS Flight Simulator, armchair pilots, unpleasant arrogant trolls and so on. You will also know that often those assertions, quotes and answers are lifted, in whole or in part, fitted into whatever context a news media "aviation journalist" requires to establish their point then attributed to "aviation experts". This cannot be good surely?

Take a look at the recent question list. Even without the specific mentions of the tragedy, it is clear that the majority of questions are motivated by speculation and the quality of the answers and comments associated is abysmal. Little of any value to the community has been added, disrespect is rife and doubtless there are already journalists picking their way through in the next attempt to make two plus two equal twenty nine.

My fear is that by not taking a strong stance on this now, it can only get worse. I see no sign of that stance being taken.

To answer the question directly, my opinion is "when the official report is released" since until that point, no matter the source, anything must be treated as speculation.

Finally, I do of course recognise that this is my personal opinion and the direction of this site belongs to the community.

I wish it well.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Actually, I do care. I'd hate to see you delete your account for that reason and I hope that you will allow yourself and this community some time before you make that decision. $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima Mod
    Mar 27, 2015 at 17:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DeltaLima Thank you for the kind words and I will do as you suggest. I'm feeling quite emotional at the moment about this topic and, for reasons I really don't want to make public,have been closer than anyone should be to aircraft accidents. I have suffered some negative criticism in comments for my stance which leads me to believe that my views do not align with the community. However, I will wait. Thanks again. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Mar 27, 2015 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ i hope you didn't take my question personally, it was never intended that way. i just wanted to clarify, as commented above, what our "culture" was. $\endgroup$
    – Erich
    Mar 28, 2015 at 0:36
  • $\begingroup$ @erich Not at all. I was a another question that fired me up. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Mar 28, 2015 at 8:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Simon I am glad you reconsidered. Thank you for staying on board! $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima Mod
    Jun 13, 2017 at 12:41

The problem is that many of the questions contain or imply unsourced speculation about a recent crash. Another site I frequent has no restrictions on speculation; they have concluded that the crash is due to

  • Bird strike
  • Bomb smuggled aboard in a baby stroller
  • Depressurization leading to hypoxia
  • Depressurization leading to explosive-decompression injury
  • Depressurization and malfunctioning oxygen mask leading to hypoxia
  • Pilot suicide
  • Pilot was secretly a terrorist
  • Suicide attack by a hijacker
  • Shot down by the French military
  • Autoland malfunction
  • AoA sensor icing
  • Airspeed sensor icing
  • Faulty maintenence actions
  • Metal fatigue
  • Confusion between "Barcelona" and "Barcelonnette"
  • Pilot health problems
  • Chemical fumes in the cockpit disabling the pilot
  • Airplane did not crash, rather, it was hijacked and flown to tribal Pakistan; the claimed crash is a coverup
  • Fuel exhaustion
  • Structural failure of the nose gear door
  • Unspecified problem leading to loss of situational awareness by the pilots
  • Fire caused by flammable wire insulation
  • FBW computer failure
  • Engine failure; confusion over which engine failed results in the working engine being shut down
  • Double engine failure; RAT failed to deploy
  • Software problems with the FMC computer
  • Failure of all hydraulic systems
  • Lightning strike
  • Both pilots left the cockpit, and an electrical problem prevented re-entry
  • Carbon dioxide poisoning
  • Electronic-warfare practice knocked out the airplane's computers
  • Pilot was drunk

or any combination of the above. Is this really the sort of thing that's appropriate for this site?


Yes, it is necessary. StackExchange looks for questions with a general validity that can help others. Questions about a specific accident/incident/disaster are either speculative or can be made more general without losing validity (actually I would argue that this improves them).


Do we have a policy of not talking about specific recent aviation disasters out of respect for the dead?

No, is a site policy to be not too localized.

If an official report is published within that mourning period, are we free to reference it?

Indipendent to the period, if the report raises interesting questions from an aviation perspective, I do not see why not to reference it.

From the comments, you add:

should we, then?

I assume you ask if we, as a website, should have a mourning period. I cannot see why we should.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "I would argue that this improves them" - completely agree. $\endgroup$
    – Erich
    Mar 31, 2015 at 13:56

For me, mourning has absolutely nothing at all to do with it. Period. Death doesn't bother me. It has to do with speculating as to the cause, which may lead to libelous behavior. I do not mean that anyone posting here would necessarily be chargeable with libel, I mean libelous behavior.

Let's take the Germanwings 9525 accident, for example. If a question asks something like can a pilot disable auto-pilot and intentionally crash an airplane, I might answer yes. If a question asks something like 'would a sane person knowingly do so', what do I say. I am not only not that pilots doctor, I'm not any pilot's doctor. If I say 'the pilot must have been insane' to do so, before any actual facts come out, I have done a disservice to that pilot, and in fact all pilots.

There was a (two days ago) accident where a young (16 year old) pilot was taking off solo, there was a nosedive by the plane, it crashed and he has died. Was it the engine? We don't know. Maybe a control cable snapped. Maybe it was pilot error due to too few hours and inexperience; or just maybe a 10,000 hour pilot couldn't have saved the plane. We don't know.

Immediately following every major air accident, we should expect a slew of questions more or less asking about the accident. We shouldn't blanket close them all. But speculation is best served by leaving it to (e.g. Fox news).

People have said here in other answers that the Germanwings accident was mentioned for context ... why? Is there no was to re-word the question so that no context is needed?

Asking if there were any prior accidents caused by suiciding pilots while using the recent crash as context, makes an implication that that accident was caused by the co-pilot committing suicide by plane. Before even the most basic of factual examination of the boxes were made or released.

Right now, in the mass media, it seems 'understood' that the accident was caused intentionally by the pilot, and that he had a history of mental instability to back up the claims.

What do we (everyone) do if, a year from now, the investigation concludes something totally unrelated, like both engines flamed out due to fuel starvation, or something? We'll have (probably totally incorrectly) castigated a scapegoat.

I know this is rambling, but it's how I feel. I'll try to clean it up a bit later.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .