Air travel is exceptionally safe when compared to ground travel, in part because there are numerous layers of protection in place to prevent issues from causing crashes. For example, pilots and their flight crews perform a series of redundant checks prior to take-off during every single flight. There are strict maintenance and mechanical inspection requirements, and airlines invest in the training and retention of professionals to coordinate air traffic and maintain their planes.
Yet, frequent fliers and those who are preparing for an upcoming trip may have noticed several high-profile stories recently about near collisions involving airplanes. What do these incidents say about air traffic safety in the United States?
Human error is often the biggest safety concern
Anytime there is an incident, whether it involves the wrong plane taxiing down a runway or an engine fire occurring shortly before takeoff, the people involved have to undergo a debriefing as part of a large-scale investigation.
The reports that investigators put together help establish the cause of the incidents and the best way of preventing a similar issue in the future. However, everyone involved in the maintenance and operation of airplanes should adhere to carefully-crafted best practices. Understaffing and hectic schedules at popular airports appear to be the precipitating factors in many recent near-miss situations.
Overall, near misses, like the issue with the wrong plane taking to the runway, actually help highlight how safe air travel truly is. Competent air traffic controllers were able to immediately respond and prevent other planes from approaching the one that ended up where it should not be. The pilots on the other planes involved responded quickly and appropriately, thereby averting possible disaster. For the most part, air travel remains very safe. Still, there is always the risk of a series of failures compounded by human error leading to injury or tragedy.
What happens after an aviation incident
Commercial airlines and companies that operate small fleets and charter flight businesses typically carry insurance that will reimburse those affected in an aviation incident. In some scenarios, the people affected by a plane crash or similar situation may need to take their claim to civil court to secure full compensation for their losses. There should be support available both for those injured in a crash and for those who lose a loved one.
Oftentimes, people grieving or struggling with injuries after a plane crash will need help understanding their options and pursuing compensation. Understanding the need for support after an aviation incident can help people make use of the insurance and other protections in place for their benefit.