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AWA essay (3rd one - not my best). 2 wks to go - comments appreciated

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Joined: 30 May 2017
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AWA essay (3rd one - not my best). 2 wks to go - comments appreciated [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2017, 12:48
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AWA PRACTICE - OG 2018, p. 825 27 Aug 17

The following appeared in the editorial section of a local newspaper:

"The tragic crash of a medical helicopter last week points out a situation that needs to be addressed. The medical-helicopter industry supposedly has more stringent guidelines for training pilots and maintaining equipment than do most other airline indutries, but these guidelines do not appear to be working: statistics reveal that the rate of medical-helicopter accidents is much higher than the rate of accident for nonmedical helicopters or commercial airliners"

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyse the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound, and what, if anything, would help you better evaluation its conclusion.

This passage argues that there are more crashes in the medical-helicopter industry due to the failure of allegedly stringent guidelines to prevent them. Although on the surface it appears a logical causation link, when examined in greater depth the argument has a number of flaws, and this essay will examine three: the failure to consider the type of flying; the failure to identify the principle reason for the higher number of crashes; and the lack of clarity on the severity of the incidents. It will conclude with recommendations for making a stronger case, and conclude that there is significant work to do for this case to hold water.

Firstly, the argument does not compare like with like. It may be that the type of flying that is required in the medical industry is inherently more dangerous than others. If one envisions medical helicopters operating to rescue injured people from mountain tops or oil rigs in harsh conditions it is easy to visualise the fact that they will be exposed to more risk than many other types of flying. Furthermore, it may be that the locations they fly from are more dangerous; landing on a hospital roof in an urban environment would present far more challenges than landing at a commercial airport. Similarly, it is likely that medical helicopter pilots are under significantly more pressure when flying due to the nature of their cargo; their ability to operate at speed (a style of flying which itself increases the danger) may well be the difference between one of their passengers living or dying. It is highly likely, therefore, that the higher incidents amongst medical helicopter pilots is due, at least in part, to the unique stresses that they encounter, both physical and psychological.

Secondly, and linked to the first point, the passage fails to identify or even intimate any of the reasons for the greater number of crashes. It does not mention whether the majority of incidents are due primarily to pilot error, or to failing equipment, or to other reasons. It loosely talks of failing "guidelines", but does not articulate whether it is the guidelines themselves that are at fault, or if it is the industry's failure to follow them. Nor does it suggest ways that adherence to correct guidelines could be improved. This part of the argument is hence particularly hollow.

Finally, the passage does not place any value on the fact that the rate of accidents for medical pilots is "much" higher than for other pilots. If the greater risk that is alluded to earlier is taken into account, it may well be that there are actually fewer accidents than there should be, in which case the medical pilots and medical helicoter industry as a whole is doing a good job. Furthermore, the passage fails completely to differentiate between the severity of incidents. Although it would be natural to assume that any accident involving a helicopter would be fatal, this is not necessarily the case; a rough landing, or damage to a part of the helicopter due to harsh weather, may be classed as an accident. However, these types of small incidents may well be more common in the medical helicopter industry due to the nature of the flying. In sum, there is no differentiation between the number and the type of accidents, and this could have a huge impact on the argument.

There are a number of ways in which this argument could be strengthened. Firstly, it should recognise the fact that it is not comparing like flying with like flying, and account for the arguably greater danger that is inherent in the nature of medical flying. Secondly, it could provide greater granularity on the types of accidents, drawing comparisons between similar incidents rather than lumping them all in the same bucket. It could do more to confirm the reasons for the crashes, from which it would be able to better target the (again very generic) "guidelines" that it refers to. Finally, it does not consider the impact of altering the guidelines, nor does it recommend how they could be changed. Without due care and secondary and tertiary analysis there could be consequences that are worse than the current situation - stricter guidelines may put off potential pilots, for example, leading to a shortage of pilots with a commensurate impact on the industry's ability to provide helicopter-based medical (and almost certainly emergency) treatment. In sum there is significant work to do before this passage has the depth and accuracy that it purports to already possess.

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Re: AWA essay (3rd one - not my best). 2 wks to go - comments appreciated [#permalink]

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New post 31 Aug 2017, 07:48
Ollie this thing is "tight," as they say in the music biz. It's the right length, you've hit all the bases and, as usual, have employed a fistful of colorful words and phrases. It's incontestably a 6.
I would change "the medical industry" (para 2, line 1) to something more dramatic, like "disaster relief" or "life-and-death operations," as a variant on what is given in the prompt - "medical helicopter industry." But that assumes you have time, and you've already done an awful lot in 30 minutes.
Oh, just to continue quibbling "helicopter" in para 4 is missing a "p."

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Re: AWA essay (3rd one - not my best). 2 wks to go - comments appreciated   [#permalink] 31 Aug 2017, 07:48
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AWA essay (3rd one - not my best). 2 wks to go - comments appreciated

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