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Human Factors In Aviation Essay

3585 words - 14 pages

Human Error in AviationMany people travel by airplane all around the world. For some people flying is the only way they can get to where they are going. On a daily basis, averages of 28 to 30,000 seats are filled on airplanes (Bear, Stearns Co. URL www.hotelonline.com). At each airport, there are hundreds of arrivals and departures worldwide. Even though airline official's say flying is safe, accidents kill many people because airlines neglect to prevent human error or repair faulty equipment. Sometimes I think the only reason an airplane could crash is if something on the plane were to break mid- flight however, most of the time that is not the case. A survey conducted by Boeing found that flight crews were responsible for at least seventy-three percent of all fatal airplane accidents. (Gray 17). Forty-one percent of these accidents occurred during landing because of unstable approaches. In addition, an investigation by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on the causes of airline accidents revealed that more than eighty percent of all airline accidents involved some degree of human error (Helmreich 62). This is very alarming when people are putting their lives in the hands of flight crews. Forty-four passengers died aboard a new British Midland 737 after its crew shut down the wrong engine after the other one malfunctioned (Greenwald 40).Do you really think that flying on an airplane, over which you have absolutely no control is very safe? Reasons for flight crew error can be explained by the conditions under which they are flying. Flight crew fatigue is a largely increasing problem on many of the jumbo jet flights today. Although there are laws that prohibit cockpit crews from sleeping in flight, there have been many weary pilots that have been known to fall asleep on occasion during some of their seventeen hour, non-stop flights (Urquhart 15). Perhaps laws should regulate the number of hours a flight crew is in the air instead of prohibiting sleep in flight.Another condition, alcohol abuse, has been found to inhibit the abilities of some flight crews. A northwest crew, flying from North Dakota to Minnesota, was found to be intoxicated on the job ("Air Safety" 61). The threat becomes a little more real when the problem hit's home. After coming back from a long deployment, without alcohol, I dread the though of my flight crew going out, getting intoxicated, and flying me home the next day. Some people refuse to drive at night because of the number of drunk drivers on the road. Would passengers want a drunken pilot to be responsible for their lives while 20,000 feet up in the air?Another reason for flight crew error is pressure to meet flight time schedules. Some of these flights take place during hazardous weather conditions. On my way back from Mildenhall RAFB, U.K. a while ago, one of our very own pilots here at Grand Forks AFB made a near fatal error while attempting to land. He touched the nose down first! Ok, no big...

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