Common Causes of Aircraft Accidents

Commercial jetliner accidents are exceedingly rare, and often dominate news headlines for weeks after the accident. The mystery of flight MH370 has haunted the general public and the relatives of the victims for years now, and no one has a firm conclusion as to what occurred to the plane.  However, plane accidents are exceedingly rare, and often occur upon take-off or landing.

Aside from major airline accidents which involve hundreds of passengers, small plane crashes are unfortunately much more common and can have devastating impacts on passengers and individuals on the ground.  

No matter the size, most plane accidents are due to the same factors:

  • Pilot error
  • Weather
  • Aircraft malfunction / Mechanical failure

Pilot Error

Pilot inexperience, coupled with adverse weather conditions can provide a recipe for disaster in these situations.  Pilots must be able to judge the weather and determine whether the plane can navigate through extreme storms. Pilots also must be able to handle any mechanical malfunctions which might occur on board. Pilots may also become incapacitated mid-flight, which can cause difficulties for the first officer in controlling a plane.

Weather

The weather often plays a large role in plane accidents. While most large jetliners are able to withstand severe storms, and can make it to a higher altitude, smaller planes are extremely susceptible to a change in weather conditions. Lightning strikes can cause complete electrical failure to a plane.

Aircraft  Malfunction

Planes are manufactured around the world and are subject to a barrage of tests before flight, and periodically as long as the plane remains in service. However, sometimes equipment malfunctions during a flight, leading to terrible accidents. Injured passengers and their families will be entitled to bring a claim against the plane manufacturer after a mechanical defect causes a plane accident.

Plane accidents are among the most terrifying things to many Americans.  However, it is important to keep in mind the statistical probability of being involved in a plane accident. A recent iPhone App “Am I Going Down?” claims to calculate the odds of disaster on a particular flight. Most flights will have a one in 5 million chance of crashing, meaning that a person could fly every day for over 10,000 years without fear of disaster.

It is equally important to remember that the length of a plane trip does not mean that the plane is more likely to crash. Plane accidents mostly occur upon take-off or landing, and rarely occur in mid-flight except in extremely rare situations.

However, passengers have a greater chance of surviving a small plane crash than a large commercial jet crash. Small planes are able to force a landing in more rural, unprepared areas than a commercial jetliner may be able to. Therefore, these small planes do not have to crash, but can instead coast to an unexpected landing.