What Are the Most Common Causes of Aviation Accidents?

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i-aviationaccidentsAviation accidents may be rare compared to other kinds of accidents, but when they happen, they have the potential to result in an incredible amount of damage and severe personal injuries. For the same reason that semi truck accidents are usually more dangerous than regular car accidents, plane crashes are often deadlier still due to the enormous size and weight of the planes. Although there are some notable exceptions, almost all of the most common causes of aviation accidents are the result of some form of negligence.

5 Most Common Causes of Aviation Accidents

Aviation accidents often take years to fully investigate, and so the exact cause of a plane crash may not be discovered for some time. However, there are several causes that have been found to be contributing factors in most aviation accidents:

  1. Pilot error. The most common cause of aviation accidents is pilot error, which accounts for approximately half of all plane crashes. Flying a plane is among the most complex and difficult jobs available, despite modern innovations that automate many features of air travel. A pilot must monitor dozens of readouts and gauges throughout the flight, many of which seem downright mystic to non-pilots. Any miscalculation or misreading can result in a deadly crash. However, pilots should not be blamed for every accident.
  2. Mechanical defects. Planes are massive feats of engineering, and are made up of hundreds of separate systems. A defect or failure in any one of these systems can lead to a dangerous situation. These can include manufacturing defects, inadequate repairs or equipment replacements and old or worn out parts.
  3. Weather problems. Just as driving becomes more dangerous in bad weather, so does flying. Heavy rainstorms, fog and snow can make it more difficult for airplanes to maneuver and can lead to deadly accidents. Visibility issues, high winds and skidding during takeoff and landing are the most dangerous weather-related threats to aircraft.
  4. Air traffic controller error. Pilots rely on information and support from air traffic controllers while they are in the air. Air traffic controllers must coordinate with many different planes at once, and often must take factors such as weather and fuel into consideration when scheduling takeoffs and landings. Any error made by an air traffic controller has the potential to result in an aviation accident, possibly involving more than one aircraft.
  5. Other causes. There are many other factors that can contribute to a plane crash, including sabotage and poor runway maintenance. One of the most surprisingly common factors in aviation accidents is birds. If a large bird collides with a windscreen or an engine, it can cause damage that may contribute to a plane crash.

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