There is hardly a year gone by, one does not get to hear about many airplane crashes in different parts of the world. Very few of these air disasters have spared human lives. Those who have been able to escape death in any air disaster may I say are indeed very lucky people. Do you know what it is like falling from the sky at great heights and still be alive to tell about the experience? Think about your experience of falling off a mango tree or any other tall tree during your childhood, I guess you now understand what I am getting at. But why so many plane crashes? What are the causes of airplane crashes?
There are many reasons airplanes crash. An air plane can experience technical problem during flight. Engine failures have often resulted in crashes. Engine failure can come inform of simple stalling or could be as worse as a complete detachment of the motor itself. When a complete separation happens, the drag from the air can overwhelm even the most experienced pilot.
Many Modern planes have more than one engine and this allows the plane to continue to fly when one shuts down. However there are cases where all shut down at once or one after the other and then accident occur. In 2008, a B737-219 airplane developed engine failure and crashed in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, killing 68 of 90 passengers on board. Metal fatigue of the body of a plane is capable of causing accidents. Over time it may lose strength and may no longer stand constant hits of the high velocity experienced in flight.
Birds’ strikes are capable of causing planes to crash. When they fly into engines of the plane during takeoff, or fly in to the cock pit, damaging sensitive equipment, accidents could occur. These day measures are being taken by airport authorities to prevent these animals from causing damage to the plane.
Human error is the worst cause of accidents of airplanes. Air traffic controllers at times in error; give the wrong information to pilots. Flight controllers have been linked to hundreds of incidents due to the complexity of the job and occasional long hours. The control tower is the eye and ear of the pilot. The pilot depends on them for travel information before and during flight. The failure of air traffic controllers to properly monitor the airways causes aviation accidents.
In 1997, in Buah Nabar in Indonesia, an Indonesian airplane was directed in error by the air traffic controller in the wrong direction into mountainous terrain. This example is one among many, documented. Imagine the many lives that had been lost as a result of that error. There are pilot errors. Pilots have the responsibility to transport passengers safely from one place to another and follow all the airport authority regulations to better ensure passenger safety. If a pilot or flight crew makes errors, an aviation accident may occur.
A pilot’s error could occur if he or she develops mental breakdown during flight, suffers a heart attack at a critical in the approach, or the captain suffers a heart attack and the first officer cannot regain control of aircraft. The Incapacitation of the captain due to depressurized cabin and lack of oxygen can also result in accidents.
Faulty design by the manufacturer can result in accident. If the structural design of the aircraft is flawed, there is tendency that an accident could occur. In 1997, a DC-10 crashed in Chicago in the USA, killing 270 passengers and crew on board. The engine of the plane had dropped off wing. Faulty aircraft equipment and/or mechanical failures are also common causes of aviation accidents.
Failure to properly fuel or maintain the aircraft can result in air crashes. If service station workers neglect or fail to properly fuel the aircraft before takeoff or conduct adequate maintenance or repair, their negligence may result in aviation accidents. Many crashes have occurred as a result of these factors. Maintenance or repair negligence is responsible for a few air crashes In Nigeria. Unlike a motor car which could be packed by the road side when they breakdown and be fixed, air planes do not have that luxury. An airplane must be in good shape before it is taken to the skies. For it to be in good shape always, it has to be maintained.
A number of natural phenomena can also affect the safety of airplanes. These phenomena include lighting and volcanic ash. In Europe, many flights were cancelled temporarily last year because of volcanic ashes eruptions. Volcanic ash causes serious problems for pilots as materials can enter small openings throughout the plane. It is capable of contaminating very important technical equipment. In 2010, the Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, and up to 88 people, died in a plane crash on the way to an official state ceremony around Smolensk in Russia. The cause of the accident was the weather, very heavy fog. Frost and ice can prevent an airplane from taking off and also cause crashes when the buildup is too great on the wings.
Sabotage / Explosive device have caused air crashes. The most recalled of late was the 9/11 world trade center attack in the USA. Airplane hijackers gained control of some planes, diverted them and rammed them into the World Trade Center buildings. Over 3000 persons died in that attack. In 2004, on board an Avia Express airline, an explosive device was detonated. 1n 2002, off Dalian in China, in a Northern Airline, fire broke out, started deliberately by a passenger. Many times in history, hijackers have taken over planes to achieve certain causes. Their actions often end in many air passengers losing their lives.
Fuel shortage can result in plane crashes. Some planes run out of fuel during flight. Without it been able to refuel, accident could occur when in flight. In 1945, a Transocean Air line ran out of fuel and ditched in the Atlantic, killing all on board. In 1947, a BOAC ran out of fuel because of poor weather conditions it encountered throughout the flight and crashed. Many of these accidents are preventable if proper precautions are observed. Air crashes resulting from human errors can be curtailed if strict guidelines on air safety are enforced. Proper screening and training of pilots can help reduce cases of human error related crashes. Despite the hazards of man made machines, air travel still remains the safest, fastest and a reliable means of transportation. So don’t be scared, travel by air if you can afford it.