Notable Aircraft Mishaps
Volanti Subvenimus- We Support the Flyer
Although the aviation industry has demonstrated an unparalleled safety record over the past few decades, occasionally mishaps still occur. Whether the aircraft crashes during civilian or military operations, a mishap investigation will be conducted to determine responsibility and prevent future accidents. In the modern era of aviation, aircraft mishaps are almost exclusively caused by human factors. This differs considerably from the earlier periods in aviation when actual structural or mechanical failure of aircraft would commonly be the cause of tragedy (see ‘The First Aircraft Mishap‘ below).
Flight Surgeons, Aviation Medical Examiners (AME’s) and aerospace physiologists are considered human factors experts. They can expect to be consulted during mishap investigations for this expertise. In the military, flight surgeons often assist or lead the mishap recovery and response. Although these occurrences are tragic, they do lead to improvements in flight safety as the sequence of events leading up to the mishap are evaluated. Being involved in a mishap response or investigation is one of the most challenging, but rewarding duties for any flight medicine professional.
Lastly, we are highly sensitive to the fact that these tragic mishaps have, and still do, have significant impact on loved ones of the victims. Focusing on the cause analysis and lessons to improve flight safety in NO WAY should eclipse the memories of loved ones lost in aviation accidents.
Leave Requests for Future Mishaps in the Comments Below.
‘Fitness for Flight’ – Mental Health & Antidepressants
The recent Germanwings tragedy has called commercial aviation’s concept of ‘Fitness for Flight’ into question. In case the reader has just returned from a week long hike in the wilderness and missed the news headlines – on 24 March 2014 an Airbus 320 carrying 150 passengers destined for Dusseldorf, Germany from[...Click Below to Read More]read more
Investigating Pilot Error in Plane Crashes: A Human Factors Analysis
Although horrific plane crashes continue to make the headlines and the media seems to agitate the public by suggesting otherwise, traveling by air remains the safest form of transportation. Period. According to data compiled by the Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archive, there were 265 fatalities during air travel in 2013[...Click Below to Read More]read more
The Risk of Flight – Training Accidents
Guest post by fighter pilot and editor of Tally One Rob Burgon When was the last time you remember hearing about a U.S. fighter aircraft being lost in air-to-air combat? How about the last time one of our fighters was shot down in combat? I bet you’d really have to dig for[...Click Below to Read More]read more
KLM-Panam Tenerife Disaster
The Boeing 747 was first introduced in 1970 by Panam Airlines. The 747 was the first aircraft to earn the moniker ‘Jumbo Jet’, which has now become synonymous with all large passenger aircraft. Even after more than 3 decades, this incredible double-decker aircraft remains one of the largest in the fleet today.[...Click Below to Read More]read more
Tarnak Farm – Reckless Pilots, Speed, or Fog of War?
On 17 April 2002, as the Afghanistan conflict was escalating, a friendly-fire incident swept the headlines. An American F-16 being flown by an Air National Guard pilot mistook Canadians training in a live fire drill for Taliban insurgents and dropped a 500-pound laser guided bomb (LGB) directly on target. The result[...Click Below to Read More]read more
United Airlines 173 – The Need for CRM
In late December 1978, a United Airlines commercial aircraft DC-8 carrying 181 passengers and 8 crew crashed outside Portland, Oregon. 8 passengers and 2 crew members died. Although the crew did encounter a real malfunction of the aircraft, ultimately the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) investigation concluded it was the[...Click Below to Read More]read more
JFK Jr Piper Saratoga Mishap
On 16 July 1999, the son of former President John F. Kennedy took off in his privately-owned Piper Saratoga from New Jersey bound for Martha’s Vineyard. Although he held a private pilot’s license without an instrument rating, he departed in marginal weather at night. Accompanied by his wife, Carolyn Bessette[...Click Below to Read More]read more
First Fatal Mishap in Powered Flight – Orville Wright & Lt Selfridge
Almost 5 years after the historic birth of controlled flight at Kitty Hawk, an updated version of the Wright Flyer was involved in the first fatal aircraft mishap in powered flight. Many early pioneers in aviation, like Otto Lilienthal, had already sacrificed their lives in lighter-than-air and glider ventures, but powered[...Click Below to Read More]read more