Aviation Crash Investigation Essay

Running Head: Aviation Crash Investigation


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Aviation Crash Investigation


     As defined by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an aircraft accident is an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft that takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight until such time as all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers a fatal or serious injury as a result of being in or upon the aircraft or by direct contact with the aircraft or anything attached thereto, or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage.

         The secure form to move from one place to another is through traveling by air - Aviation Crash Investigation Essay introduction. Regardless of this high safety level, aircraft accidents can occur.

Causes of Aircraft Crash

     Aircraft crashes can result from many different factors or a combination of factors. Determining the specific cause factors for each incident can be complex, entailing good judgment and precise analysis of the facts.

Pilot Errors

     Pilots are accountable for transporting the plane’s passengers from one destination to another. Pilots have a responsibility to adhere to air safety regulations that have been outlined and created to better ensure the protection of everyone on board or else risk an aircraft accident.

Malfunction or failure of aircraft structures, engines, or other systems

     Defective equipment or even inadequately maintained equipment can fall short and reason for an airplane to crash.

Violating FAA regulations

     FAA laws exist to protect everyone using air travel. Violations of FAA regulations can jeopardize the safety of everyone in the air.

Structural or design problems with an aircraft

     Include unacceptably accomplished maintenance and unsatisfactory maintenance measures and procedures.

 Air traffic management errors

     Deficiencies in weather reporting, regulations, and the air traffic control system (navigational aids; air traffic control directives; and airport facilities, runways, and taxiways).

Unexpected adverse weather conditions

     Represents accidents in which pilot error was involved but brought about by weather related phenomena

Human Factors as One of the Main Reason for Aircraft Crash

     It is said that 80% of aircraft crashes is due to human factors. Human factors are an entire field of study in aviation. It encompasses not only how a cockpit is managed but how mechanical maintenance is completed. There are numerous contributing aspects which can be blamed for an aircraft crash.

Over-Reliance on Automation
Lack/Loss of Situational Awareness by flight crew
Communication Problems
Complacency/Time Pressure

Methods in Determining an Aircraft Crash

Flight Data Recorder

     The Flight Data Recorder onboard the aircraft records many different operating conditions of the flight. FDRs record flight parameters that can aid in the investigation and retains the last 25 hours of aircraft operation on tape.

Data recovered from the FDR can generate a computer animated video reconstruction of the flight. The investigator can then envision the airplane’s attitude, instrument readings, power settings and other characteristics of the flight. This animation allows the investigating team to visualize the last moments of the flight prior to the accident.

Here are a few of the parameters recorded by most FDRs:

Pressure altitude
Vertical acceleration
Magnetic heading
Control-column position
Rudder-pedal position
Control-wheel position
Horizontal stabilizer
Fuel flow
Cockpit Voice Recorder

     Provide a record of the last 30 minute audio environment in the cockpit area that includes crew conversation, radio transmissions, aural alarms, control movements, switch activations, engine noise and airflow noise.

     A team of experts is usually brought in to interpret the recordings stored on a CVR. This group typically includes a representative from the airline, a representative from the airplane manufacturer, an NTSB transportation-safety specialist and an NTSB air-safety investigator. This group may also include a language specialist from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    Both the Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder have proven to be helpful tools in the accident investigation procedure. These are often the lone survivors of airplane accidents, and as such provide important clues to the cause that would be impossible to obtain any other way.

Aircraft Performance

     Aircraft performance is an assessment of how fit a plane meets its design requirements. There are different aspects of aircraft performance which contributes to the safety of a flight.

Climb Performance

     The climb performance of an aircraft is an important safety of flight consideration as it determines the capability of the aircraft to clear an obstacle after takeoff, en route terrain avoidance, go-around capability from an aborted landing and avoid unwarranted noise to those who resides near busy airports.

Glide Performance

Glide performance is the distance that the aircraft will glide with an inoperative engine. The best distance is attained by gliding at an angle of attack that provides the maximum lift/drag ratio.

Cruise Performance

     Cruise control is the science of optimizing this simple observation in order to achieve both maximum fuel efficiency and also the highest possible speed.

     The cruise performance of an aircraft is measured in two specific areas;  how long can the aircraft remain airborne on a specific amount of fuel (commonly referred to as its endurance) and how far can the plane travel on a given amount of fuel (referred to as the aircraft’s range). This session investigates the factors influencing an aircraft’s cruise performance and describes how to determine the best cruise speed for both endurance and range.

Landing Performance

     The minimum landing distance is reached by landing at the minimum secure rate which permits adequate margin beyond the stall speed for adequate control and go-around capacity. Gross weight and headwind are essential factors in determining minimum landing distance.

Technology for Safer Skies

     An instrument for detecting windshear, a sudden shift in wind direction and a primary cause of aircraft accidents, was introduced to commercial airline service in a Boeing 737-300 jetliner on 1994. The instrument was the Bendix RDR-4B airborne weather radar developed by AlliedSignal Commercial Avionic Systems, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Computers in the Sky
Unmanned airborne transportations are machines that fly with no one aboard. They vary in size and are flown by means of remote control or an on-board computer to take-off, fly, and land.

The auto-pilot in a UAV replaces the functions a human pilot normally does. The vehicle flies itself while an operator directs the flight path with a waypoint table using a mouse. Waypoints specify locations by latitude, longitude, and altitude.

What’s in store for Black Boxes?
There are developments on the horizon for black box technology, according to L3 Communications. Apparently, some form of cockpit video recorder will be developed. Such a recorder would be able to store video images in solid-state memory.
Currently, several automobile manufacturers are utilizing black box technology in their automobiles and a few have been doing so for quite some time.


Aircraft Crash Statistics. Retrieved from the Web. http://www.planecrashinfo.com/cause.htm,    11/13/06.

Senders, J.W., and Moray, N.P. Human error: Cause, prediction and reduction. Hillsdale, NJ:

            Earlbaum, 1991.

Computers in the Sky. Retrieved from the Web.             http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0geuuC5XVhFNdgA8hBXNyoA?p=determining+            an+aircraft+crash&ei=UTF-8&fr=yfp-t-501&x=wrt, 11/12/06.

Technology for Safer Skies. Retrieved from the Web.             http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0geuuC5XVhFNdgA8hBXNyoA?p=determining+            an+aircraft+crash&ei=UTF-8&fr=yfp-t-501&x=wrt, 11/13/06.

Aviation Accidents and Incidents. Retrieved from the Web.              http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0geuuC5XVhFNdgA8hBXNyoA?p=determining+            an+aircraft+crash&ei=UTF-8&fr=yfp-t-501&x=wrt, 11/13/06.

Aircraft Performance Database. Retrieved from the Web. http://www.risingup.com/planespecs/,             11/12/06.

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