Air travel is one of the safest means of traveling the world, and considering the traffic, fewer accidents occur compared to road travel. However, aviation accidents do occur from time to time and are the most fatal in nature. Statistically, those who survive plane crashes are few and in most cases, none survive. Authorities take plane crashes extremely seriously and such incidents are always followed by vigorous investigations to mitigate future crashes. Worldwide, the top ten countries that have witnessed the highest number of fatal plane crashes since 1945 are: the US (760 accidents), Russia (305 accidents), Canada (169 accidents), Brazil (168 accidents), Colombia (163 accident), UK (101 accidents), France (101 accidents), India (94 accidents), Indonesia (93 accidents), and Mexico (87 accidents).
1. The United States of America
Since 1945, 10,505 people have lost their lives due to airplane accidents in the US. Some of the deadliest crashes include American Airlines Flight 191 in Chicago and the 9/11 terrorist incident. Experts explain the high number of US flight accidents to be a result of the high volume of air traffic in the country. Many airlines have been victims of these accidents including giants like American Airlines and Delta Air Lines
Russia records the second highest number of air accidents in the world after the US. The country recorded 304 deadly crashes from 1945 resulting in 6,919 casualties. Russian authorities blame most of the accidents on PJSC Aeroflot – Russian Airlines which is the de facto national airline in Russia and operates domestic and international markets. The airline is in the process of restructuring and overhauling their tainted image. From 1923-2017 over 8, 231 Aeroflot passengers have died.
From 1945, Canada documented 169 fatal accidents that left 2,653 passengers dead. Characterized by large tracts of uneven terrain, bad weather, and high air traffic, Canadian government runs an online platform where people can get records of accidents, investigations, and prosecutions related to air accidents. With such a list, passengers are at liberty to view which airlines and routes are safer.
Causes Of Air Accidents
Reasons behind planes crashes vary with each crash, with the most common being pilot error, mechanical problems, inclement weather, sabotage, or other human mistakes like errors by air traffic controllers and fuel starvation. Pilot errors account for more than half of all plane crashes. These errors occur when a pilot mishandles the controls, gets confused during navigation in bad weather, misreads the equipment, poorly coordinates with the co-pilot, ignores warnings, or executes poor takeoff or landing. Psychological issues may also cause a pilot error to cause a crash. In few cases, a pilot may not be acutely aware of some new aircraft controls. Mechanical errors account for 22% of aircraft accidents. In cases of mechanical error, systems may fail beyond the capability of the crew. Some of the mechanical errors have been a result of poor plane design. Inclement weather is responsible for 12% of plane crashes and is the reason most of the times flights wait till the weather clears. Fog, heavy winds, and lightning can disable aircraft systems and cause accident. Planes crashes may also be as a result of human sabotage like hijacking, terrorism, and mentally ill passengers who have attacked pilots in the past. Some flights, like Flight 370 of Malaysian Airlines, just disappeared into thin air, never to be found, leaving no trace of the cause, passengers or any part of the flight.
Mitigating Air Accidents
To minimize accidents, airlines have taken several steps and invested in ensuring aviation safety. Pilots are trained, retrained, and evaluated comprehensively before they are allowed to fly. For new planes, airlines prefer the manufacturer conducting detailed tests and training of crew and engineers. Airlines also pay more attention to weather conditions and advice pilots accordingly as well as equipping them with modern communications and safety equipment. With the increase of terrorism, all the main airports are conducting thorough security checks, and people with questionable backgrounds may not be allowed inside flights. During accidents, the Black Box is usually used to identify the cause and prevent similar incidents in the future. Investigators often front for massive fines against airlines found responsible for accidents due to action, or inaction.