As every airline, aircraft manufacturer, pilot and air traffic controller will tell you, aviation accidents are hardly ever just one individual’s fault. When an airplane is involved in an accident, finding the exact cause is a labyrinthine process, with multiple possible answers.
Why is fault so complicated in aviation accidents?
Flying a plane is hard work. The ability to fly an airplane relies on sensitive, ever-changing technologies, skilled pilots, air traffic controllers, and strict maintenance schedules. No one in the air is ever truly alone. It is an ongoing act of coordination.
If an accident happens, it could be from such issues as:
- Equipment failure: Whether a piece of equipment hasn’t received proper maintenance or a faulty new instrument; any malfunction can have a catastrophic cascade.
- Pilot error: Pilots are experienced, well-trained men and women who do everything in their power to keep a plane in the air. They are also human and capable of making critical mistakes.
- Communication errors: Helping pilots along are the air traffic controllers. These trained experts must be effective at directing planes through sometimes congested airspace. That’s not always as simple as it sounds and miscommunication is a risk.
- Weather: Many people have flown in brutal weather, but extreme weather can create extremely unsafe flying conditions.
Often, some issues magnify others, such as miscommunication and an equipment failure happening during a powerful storm. Companies and courts may spend months after an accident reviewing data to understand where the ultimate fault lies.
Aggressive, proactive advocacy
No stakeholder in an accident must accept a report that shows that they were at fault. It is vital to respond to such findings to ensure that the information is accurate and complete. An assignation of the blame can become a significant liability for a company. For that reason anything less than the most aggressive and proactive response to such a report is a failure.