Flight 427 pp 29-44 | Cite as

Looking for Answers

  • Gerry Byrne


Pilot error is a common cause of crashes but by no means the only factor, or even the prevalent factor. If one searches the history of aviation, or even just uses one’s imagination and common sense, the causes, even in a greatly simplified accounting, can add up to a dizzying list of possibilities. Airplanes also crash because of bombs, fuel tank explosions, birds being sucked into jet engines, lightning strikes, ice forming on the wings, mid-air collisions with other aircraft, electrical fires, cargo fires, murder, suicide, engine explosions, engine failures, collisions with mountains, hills, and airport buildings, structural failure, power failure, hydraulic failure, severe weather conditions, just plain running out of fuel, or a microscopic flaw in a vital component that has gone undetected for years. Human factors play a large role: mechanics forget to fix things, pilots get lost or program their computers incorrectly, or air traffic controllers give wrong directions. And in the worst conceivable cases, as we all saw on September 11, 2001, human intruders can overpower a crew and seize the controls, turning airliners into deadly weapons of terror. Sometimes, it seems, the pilots do everything by the book, but it turns out the book was wrong or incomplete or didn’t anticipate every eventuality. Investigators need to consider any and every possible factor, and of course that doesn’t rule out causes they might not even have imagined.


Wind Shear United Airline Deadly Weapon Crash Scene Crash Investigation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

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  • Gerry Byrne

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