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Human Error and Mechanical Failure as Causes of Aviation Crashes

March 23, 2018 Aviation Blog,Blog

Despite aviation being a highly regulated industry, human errors and mechanical failures still contribute to crashes.

The FAA oversees much of the aviation manufacturing and servicing industry, including approving companies for many of the methods used in designing and manufacturing parts, ongoing review of design, facilities, processes and quality control. And even where the FAA does not regulate parts, they must be manufactured to meet applicable design requirements and industry standards. Whenever the FAA identifies parts that are either not properly documented or that may be counterfeit, it categorizes them as suspected unapproved parts (SUPs), and bars their use in any aircraft pending its investigation and further action.

Once parts are incorporated into an aircraft, safety inspections are critical to find and replace overused or broken parts, before a disaster. Any replacement parts must be the proper models and must be checked for any safety notices, recalls or airworthiness directives. While new parts can be made of stronger and more reliable materials and components, they can present problems when used in older aircrafts where they may not fit and work properly.

Once in the air, the failure of aircraft parts, components or systems to work as expected can lead to disasters that take many forms. A malfunctioning fuel gauge or electronic display can lead to engine failure. Even something as simple as a missing or loose oil cap can have tragic consequences.

But a properly functioning aircraft is only part of what is needed for a safe flight. The human component, including pilots, crews, air traffic controllers and others must follow proper protocol. Human error among any of these can have fatal consequences, not only for those onboard, but also those on other aircrafts and on the ground.

In larger aircraft, pilots and crew must communicate properly to avoid missing warning signs of potential problems and to avoid compounding errors. Pilots must monitor their fuel levels and switch between fuel tanks when needed. The failure to do so will eventually starve the engine of fuel, causing the plane to lose engine power. Pilots must also evaluate weather conditions and take appropriate actions, such as deicing wings and avoiding obstacles in low visibility situations. They also must maintain situational awareness to avoid any obstacles in the sky or on the ground. This is particularly important near airports where other aircraft are likely to be in the area and where obstacles like terrain, buildings, and trees can be near the required approach for landings.

The safe maintenance and operation of planes and helicopters requires close and ongoing coordination between many people on the ground and in the air. Nothing less is required to ensure human error or mechanical failures don’t lead to a crash.

If you or a family member has been seriously injured or impacted by an airplane crash, the aviation attorneys at CaseyGerry can help. Our legal team has the expertise and resources needed to take on complex aviation cases and has litigated high profile cases nationwide.