Accidents That Led to Improvements in Aviation Safety Standards

Paper Type:  Case study
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  785 Words
Date:  2022-05-17

Many people in the United States consider Air travel to be the safest mode of transport. This notion cannot be contested because, when compared to other forms of transportation, air travel causes the lowest amounts of accidents annually. However, although these accidents seldom occur, whenever they happen they are disastrous. The potential losses from air transport accidents are usually very high as compared to other forms of accidents, and it is scarce for people involved in such accidents to survive. Human error causes almost 75% of these accidents. However, there are other factors which contribute to the occurrence of these accidents. These factors include; technology, equipment, social systems, technology, and procedures followed during air travel (Liu & Pratt, n.d).

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During the first accident which occurred on December 28th, 1978 in Oregon and involved a United Airlines flight 173, a combination of several factors may have led to the occurrence of the accident. First, the captain of the plane did not put to consideration the comments from the flight's crew members. His mind was also preoccupied with the fact the landing gear had a malfunction that created a new problem of fuel inadequacy which is the ultimate cause that led made the plane to crash (Royal Aeronautical Society, 1999). The crashing of the aircraft may, therefore, be attributed to the lack of adequate communication between the members of the crew which made them not to be aware of the situation they were in and thus making a series of poorly thought of decisions which ultimately resulted to a disastrous accident.

This accident drastically changed the way in which crew members were instructed on how to communicate with one another. Before the crash, the Captain was considered as the ultimate decision maker, and other members of the crew had to abide by the decisions he made. The accident caused stakeholders in the aviation industry to start looking for ways in which too much dependence on the captain would be reduced. NASA, in response to this accident, came up with a program known as Crew Resource Management (CRM) which was intended to address the matters arising from the crash (Jedick, 2014). The CRM program was structured in a way that it provided equal chances to all members of the crew to give their suggestions during emergency situations. The core elements of CRM include; safety of airline passengers, effective communication and cooperation among all crew members on board, frequent monitoring for early detection of threats and regular feedbacks to ensure early mitigation of risks before they become catastrophic (Jedick, 2014). CRM reduced the over-reliance on the captain of the plane to make decisions and therefore significantly reducing the number of accidents which occurred. Its effectiveness has made it to be adopted as a mandatory course in crew training by most airlines in the United States.

The second accident involved a United Airline flight 232 which crashed in the Sioux City of Iowa in 1989. The accident occurred as a result of an engine failure that was caused by a microscopic crack in the fan disk. To prevent this issue from happening to other planes, the FAA came up with a Team to review the Titanium Rotating Components. The team was to come up with ways to improve the process of manufacturing and inspecting aircraft engines (Andino, 2014).

Although the accident was disastrous, it provides us with a perfect example of the advantages that can be accrued when the CRM program is efficiently implemented. The captain of the plane did not rely on his own decisions alone; he consulted with his crew members (Andino, 2014). He even went ahead to ask the check airman who was on board as a passenger for suggestions on how to mitigate the problem at hand (Andino, 2014). The effective coordination between the flight crew can be attributed to the CRM program that was introduced soon after the accident of 1978.


From the above case studies, it can be seen that the CRM program is a useful tool that can be used to increase the standards of flight safety and also operational efficiency. The emphasis on efficient communication between flight crew members in case of emergency situations not only fosters cooperation but also reduces the chances of fatal accidents from occurring and therefore saving the lives of many passengers on board.


Andino, G. (2014). United Flight 232: Surviving The Unthinkable. Retrieved on April 30, 2018, from

Jedick, R. (2014). United Airlines 173- The Need for CRM. Retrieved on April 30, 2018, from

Liu, A. and Pratt, N. (n.d.0. Introduction To Crew Resource Management. Retrieved on April 30, 2018, from

Royal Aeronautical Society. (1999). Crew Resource Management. Retrieved on April 30, 2018, from

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Accidents That Led to Improvements in Aviation Safety Standards. (2022, May 17). Retrieved from

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