The recent incident in San Francisco has many people on edge about air travel.
On July 6th, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 was coming in from Seoul, South Korea, when it landed too low and slow, causing the plane to hit the runway and flip down the runway for hundreds of feet. Three people were killed and 182 injured.
While our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families involved in this tragic accident, the reality is that air travel continues to be the safest form of transportation in comparison to others on a per mile basis. Statistics repeatedly show that flying is six times safer than cars and twice as safe as trains.
That being said, accidents do occur, and statistics don’t help comfort the families of the three women killed in San Francisco two weeks ago, or the surviving passengers who are still suffering from mild to critical injuries.
Most people are unaware of the hazards of flying, and what the common causes for plane crashes are. So, if you’ve ever wondered about why plane accidents happen, here are the top five reasons:
5. Air Traffic Control/Airline Employee Error
About 7% of plane crashes are caused by mistakes made by air traffic controllers or another airline employee. Air traffic control is a high-stress job, and poor decisions have been made during hectic moments that put planes and their passengers in danger. Also, planes can be fueled incorrectly or not properly maintained, resulting in a forced landing.
Of course the most remembered instance of sabotage in our nation’s history is the terrorist hijacking of 9/11. However, although sabotaged flights get the most media attention, it actually only accounts for less than a tenth (9%) of all plane crashes.
Hazardous weather conditions have caused about 12% of accidents. Although flights are generally grounded when foreseeable bad weather arises, planes can be stranded or endangered when conditions take a surprising turn for the worst. Lightning, in particular, can pose a danger to an airborne aircraft.
2. Mechanical Error
The second most common cause of plane crashes is mechanical error—22%. Flaws in aircraft design, improper maintenance, or damage to the plane can result in a critical systems failure, leaving the pilot scrambling to facilitate a safe landing.
1. Pilot Error
Over half of aviation crashes are caused by pilot error, making it the single greatest reason why plane accidents happen. This number may seem high, but pilots must watch large consoles for the slightest inconsistency, and just one small slip up can be fatal. It is a demanding job that requires unceasing vigilance, and sometimes certain pilots aren’t up for the task.
Overall, you shouldn’t be afraid to fly. Of course accidents occasionally happen, but there are millions of safe flights each year that we never hear about on the news.
However, in the rare event that you or a loved one are injured in a plane crash, you should contact an aviation accident lawyer immediately to discuss your legal rights.