Although rare, airplanes do crash. As pilots, it is important to understand the causes of airplane crashes so as not to repeat the same mistakes. Statistical evidence shows that an increasing percentage of airplane accidents are being linked to pilot error. Before we jump to conclusions, consider that this may not be such a bad thing.
In the past, pilot error was rarely a factor in any accident investigation. So what was the chief cause of accidents? Bonus points if you guessed it: mechanical failure. Pilots simply didn’t get a chance to screw up! With technological advancement came safer airplanes. Not surprising, the total number of accidents have gone down dramatically. In fact, the odds of dying on an airliner today is 52.6 million to 1 according to the NTSB. Today, airplanes are so structurally sound that pilot error is the only factor left to dominate the accident reports.
The problem lies in the pilot’s ability to evaluate information. Ultimately, many pilot error cases come down to a user-interface issue. Luckily, modern technology is advancing to keep pilots seamlessly tuned into their environment in an effort to further increase safety of flight.
As cool as these technologies are, just being presented with modern avionics isn’t enough to prevent disaster. Pilots of modern aircraft face the very real possibility of information overload. Consider Tim Krell’s report on the dangers of glass cockpits.
Today, more than ever, it is vitally important to maintain situational awareness and proficiency of one’s aircraft. Stay alert and fly safe!