Causes of Human Error in Aircraft Accidents

Updated: Dec 6, 2016

Hashtag: #CertificatesOfDoom

AIR TRAVEL SAFETY AND PROBABLE CAUSES OF HUMAN ERROR

Commercial aircraft’s hull-loss accident rate is 1.5 per one million departures making it the safest form of mass transportation in the world. However, despite tremendous improvements in commercial jets technology, the safety of air travel constantly depends on human efficiency and reliability or in the qualifications of aircraft’s pilot and crew.

UK statistics of transport accidents in 2003 suggest that there are 20 times more people being killed in car accidents than passengers of commercial airlines each year. Travelling by air is also 4 times safer than rail travel. In fact, the average fatality for every 12.5 million passengers carried by UK airlines is one. Moreover, airline passenger’s overall survivability rate in the year 2000 was already 95.7% and probably much higher today due to continuous improvement in aircraft’s design, operation, maintenance, and air traffic control. Except for human error, this makes commercial airlines the fastest, reliable, and safest type of mass transportation in the world.

Human error is the main contributor to aircraft accidents. In fact, despite the presence of automated flight management systems and adaptive cruise control in cockpits, the common cause of aircraft accidents is human errors. Specifically, these are pilot’s intentional violation of operating procedures, incorrect reasoning, slips or mistakes caused by fatigue, and wrong response to a critical situation. Slips caused by fatigue are easy to accept, but breaking the rules and making faulty responses and reasoning is a quite strange for a well-educated, highly trained, and adequately experienced aviation pilot. Are these pilots really skilled and competent or holders of #CertificatesOfDoom from an aviation college in Nairobi?


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Airlines Criterion and Academically Incompetent Pilots

Airlines have a specific criterion in hiring new applicants in order to ensure consistent quality service. On the other side of the coin, it is also a precautionary measure to prevent entry of “half-baked” pilots or those with poor quality aviation training, less piloting experience, and insufficient formal education.

It is quite evident that an ideal airline pilot is one with adequate formal education, well trained and with long hours of flight experience. A pilot holding a deceitfully acquired academic certificate or #CertificatesOfDoom, therefore, has no business whatsoever in the aviation industry.

The recent Twitter expose about some aviation graduates that bought their degrees and certificates in various fields of Aeronautics, is a sad indication that some pilots of commercial airlines are academically incompetent. Another is the shocking reality that these certificates were sold by the institution that we all hoped to teach good values and promote learning in young people.

Academically incompetent pilots must not be allowed to fly or work in the aviation industry. In particular, those who acquired their degrees without attending the class are dangerous people with no respect for human life. The aviation industry should keep them out or terminate those who are already in the industry. In time, their lack of academic knowledge will take its toll on their ability to reason, make right decisions, and correctly respond to life-threatening situations. Remember, human error is not only responsible for significant financial losses but to the thousands of people who were killed by one man’s incompetence.

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