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03/07 - 2015

Monaco, June 28, 2015

The  Point of No Return

The PNR - the defining point for André’s entire flight to Hawaii.

For the first 7 hours, it would still be possible to return to Nagoya if a technical or meteorological problem arose. But not any later…

Not long after take-off, the automatic pilot monitoring system gave up the ghost. André could still sleep, but he could no longer be woken up if turbulence destabilised the aircraft. A quick fix was found immediately, but for the engineers, it was still an absolute "no-go". Not for André and me. The weather window is the best we’ve seen for 2 months, a royal road across the Pacific is open, and all the vital functions of the aircraft are in the green. We can’t sacrifice the great leap for something so trivial. There’s deep division in the team: the engineers who built the aircraft want to protect their baby by scrupulously respecting procedures, and we can all understand that. The rest of the team wants to save the project, since returning to Nagoya would rule out a later take-off, with the approaching rainy season and administrative investigations triggered by an emergency return to base.

You can’t cross an ocean without losing sight of the coast, even if it’s a frightening thought. The whole team has to learn that lesson… Exploration is a leap into the unknown. André is now heading for Hawaii. As I write these lines, I still don’t know what will happen, but I’m firmly convinced that this was the right decision. It’s not every day that you have an appointment with destiny…


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