An Overview of Aviation Accidents

According to a General Aviation Fatal Accidents Data Listing Report conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the average number of general aviation and nonscheduled fatal aircraft crash landings is between 319 and 385 per year. That reflects only a portion of total number of aviation accidents that occur each year.

The Aviation Accident Statistics report conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for the Safety Studies Division of the Office of Research and Engineering concluded that there are between 100 and 150 civil aviation regulation accidents that result in about 100 fatalities every month in the U.S. The NTSB also gathered data of the overall number of general aviation accidents in a one-year study entitled The Aviation Accident Statistics Report. This report gathered information from aviation accidents that included all types of aircraft.

According to the annual figures collected in The Aviation Accident Statistics Report:

  • There were 1,722 civil aviation accidents in the U.S. that resulted in 535 Fatalities
  • There were 1,631 general aviation accidents in the U.S. that resulted in 491 Fatalities
  • There were 62 accidents of on-demand fights in the U.S. that resulted in 43 Fatalities
  • There were 14 accidents of unregistered aircraft in the U.S. that resulted in 7 Fatalities
  • There were 11 accidents of foreign registered aircraft in the U.S. that resulted in 3 Fatalities

Safety Protocols and Maintenance of Aircraft

The regulations FAA has set are strict safety standards that the air carriers must follow to the letter to guarantee that every precaution is taken to minimize any threat of casualty or hazard to the passengers and crew. To this end, the FAA has numerous rules and regulations to make sure that the air carriers abide by the safety standards. The passenger air carriers in the U.S. have many of their own protocols set in place to assure passenger safety and follow strict procedures to make sure every precaution is observed to ensure the safety of their passengers and employees.

Some of these regulations are designed to apply strict protocols for the maintenance and inspection of aircraft. The mechanics must have either or both an aircraft maintenance license or an aircraft mechanic license to operate on a plane legally. Aircrafts have a rigorous schedule of regular maintenance and inspection in order to stay safe and airworthy. Flying causes stress and deterioration of the mechanical structure of the aircraft (Airframe), the landing gear (undercarriage), and the engines. Regular maintenance can prevent minor problems such as stress fractures and structural fatigue from becoming major problems while the aircraft is airborne.

The FAA has outlined routine safety information that should be gathered in the regular inspection of aircraft to keep them safe and airworthy. That information includes:

  • Regular and timely inspection of the aircraft
  • Scheduled maintenance of all individual aircraft parts
  • A Required Inspection Item (RII) program
  • Regular overhaul of the aircraft, engines, propellers, and appliances
  • Schedule regular required repairs and modifications
  • Complete a reliability program
  • A systematic structural inspection program
  • Routine mechanical reliability reports
  • Special Federal Aviation Regulation 36 Authority Report
  • Special Operations Maintenance (Category II, Category III, Minimal Navigation Performance Specification, Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums (RVSM), extended-range twin-engine operations (ETOPS))
  • Addressing aging aircraft issues
  • Corrosion Prevention and Control programs
  • Supplemental Structural Inspection documents
  • Structural Inspection document
  • Structural repair assessments
  • Nondestructive testing

Causes of Aviation Accidents

The main causes of aviation accidents include human error and mechanical problems. The FAA has safety protocols for pilots, aircraft maintenance, and manufacturers of aircraft but even with all these safety procedures in place accidents occur. Any misstep in the chain of inspection or overlooked detail can have devastating consequences.

According to the FAA the most common reasons for aviation accidents are:

  • Pilot errors
  • Mechanical failure
  • Weather
  • Violation of FAA regulations
  • Aircraft structural or design problems
  • Flight crew error
  • Air traffic controller error
  • Maintenance or repair carelessness
  • Fueling mishap

Roughly, 80 percent of all aviation accidents occur shortly before, after, or during takeoff or landing. These accidents are frequently due to human error. Aviation mid-flight accidents are very rare but they do happen and can have disastrous and deadly consequences from .

The leading causes of mid-air disasters are:

  • Sabotage
  • Mid-air collisions
  • Structural failure

What You Can Do To Protect Yourself

In addition to all the safety measures, regulations, and protocols practiced by the air carriers and aviation personnel, there are precautions that the passengers can take to ensure that their trip is as safe as possible. A passenger should pay attention to the flight attendants pre-flight emergency information demonstration. He/she should know where all the exits are located on the aircraft. It is a good idea to study the emergency information booklet supplied by the air carrier to know the emergency protocols if anything does happen.

Approximately eighty percent of aircraft accidents are not fatal but still result in injury to the passengers because of the lack of knowledge of safety protocols and inattention to the safety information demonstration conducted by the flight attendant.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an aviation accident, you should talk to a personal injury lawyer that specializes in aviation accidents.

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