How do aircraft accidents happen

Airplane crashes: expert explains the 5 most common causes

Many people suffer from fear of flying. Whether the tightness of the aircraft, the total surrender of any control option or simply the fear of a crash, the causes are diverse. This year's holiday season does not seem to be completely canceled despite the coronavirus, and many people are already planning their next trips - including air travel, of course. An expert now reveals what the most common causes of a plane crash * are.

Simon Ashley Bennet studies civil aviation safety at the University of Leicester and explains the five most common reasons for plane crashes.

The 5 most common reasons for plane crashes

1. Mistakes made by the pilots

Technically, airplanes are much safer today than they used to be, so the most common cause of crashes is pilot error. Pilot errors as the cause of plane crashes make up around 50 percent of all cases today. This is due to the fact that airplanes are high-tech machines and some errors are possible when they are operated. Still, pilots are often the last resort, for example in 2009 when the pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger landed a plane on the Hudson River.

2. Machine errors

Despite technological advances, technical errors can still occur. Although aircraft and their devices are much safer today than they were in the past, machine errors still account for around 20 percent of the causes of crashes.

3. Weather

The weather also plays a role in plane crashes: Despite the many technical aids, planes sometimes get caught in storms, fog or snow. Incidentally, according to Bennet, thunderstorms are not a common cause of crashes. However, around ten percent of plane crashes can be attributed to the weather.

4. Sabotage and Terrorism

In some cases, sabotage or an act of terrorism is also the cause of a plane crash. However, it is only about ten percent of the cases in which sabotage - less often terrorism - is the cause of crashes. This means that terrorist attacks pose a much lower risk than many people believe.

5. Other forms of human error

The last ten percent of airplane crashes are due to other forms of human error or human misconduct, according to Bennet. These could be mistakes made by air traffic controllers, air traffic controllers, maintenance workers or other ground personnel. Long shifts in particular are a risk factor here and can lead to potentially catastrophic mistakes.

Book tip: The most spectacular aircraft accidents: Facts - Background - Consequences


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