How is security tested on aircrafts?

Alain Lasfargues researched the manufacturers, in the schools of pilots and Air France’s security service. Alain Lasfargues takes us to the Airbus and Boeing factories. We discover the multiples procedure check and certification that allows to build almost perfect machines (barely 15% of accidents are due to mechanical causes, i.e. the airplane on itself is not the main source of accidents). We will see aircraft security engineers that will show us the functioning of automatic security systems.

For example, we fly a 757 right towards a mountain. This will trigger the e-gpws (Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System), then, a strong, synthetic voice, will urge the pilot to rapidly raise the height to avoid an accident. On another sequence, at Airbus’ headquarters, one discovers that the pilot is not the only master on board: computers can validate or not the orders received from him. But even if the pilot is often the weakest link of the security, when it comes to an emergency, he can become the strongest link: he is the only element of the system that can be able to adapt to every situation.

In Denver (Colorado), we attend a course where the members of an aircraft crew learn how to express their opinions without taking in account their respective hierarchical position. Most passengers would be terrified that pilots are taught to yell one another as a sort of official May 68 of the aeronautics as a key security behavior… For the first time the security service of Air France allows a film crew into their premises. Their function is to detect, index and analyze the more insignificant incident that could have an incidence on the security. Immediately after WWII, there was an accident for 10 000 take-offs. Today, there is a little less d’un accident for a million take-offs. The aerial catastrophe became an extremely rare event: twenty-five accidents in the entire world for about 28 million of take-offs.

Alain Lasfargues

After being graduated in law and Sciences Po Paris, and then IDHEC in the “direction” section, Alain Lasfargues started an impressive career of documentary film maker; his works – over 40 films – have been broadcasted in France by Arte, France 2, France 3, Canal+. Since 1998, he is the CEO of AVIDIA, a post-production company


until january first, 2012


Arte France (France- Germany) Telewizja Polska (Poland)
ERT (Greece) RTSI (Italian Switzerland) Sogecable (Spain, Portugal, Andorra) SIC TV (Portugal) RTE (Eire) Estonian television (Estonia)


YAO (China) SBS (Australia) Discovery communications (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka)


Télé Quebec (Quebec)

Africa & Middle East

SOREAD (Morocco) AL Jazeera (Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordania, Kuweit, Iraq, Qatar, Bahrein, United Arab Emirates)

International Sales

Arte France distribution

Coproduction / presales

ARTE France

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