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Aviation Accidents Caused by Poor Maintenance

Posted on by in Aviation Accidents


The late 1980s and early 1990s witnessed a frightful number of maintenance-related aviation accidents and incidents. Eventually, Transport Canada has described twelve major human factors that are likely to reduce an individual's ability to execute his duties effectively and safely, which in turn leads to maintenance errors. These factors named as the "Dirty Dozen" are now considered by the aviation industry as a means to talk about human errors in maintenance. Knowing about the Dirty Dozen makes it easier to prevent and manage those human factors that lead to errors and to tragic aviation accidents.

What Are the Most Common Maintenance Errors?

So, what exactly does this Dirty Dozen consist of? The twelve human errors include:

  • Lack of communication
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Lack of teamwork
  • Lack of assertiveness
  • Lack of resources
  • Lack of awareness
  • Distraction
  • Pressure
  • Complacency
  • Fatigue
  • Norms
  • Stress

In-depth studies have shed light on some of the most commonly occurring discrepancies during maintenance. Here is a comprehensive list of the errors:

  • Faulty installation of components
  • Assembling wrong parts
  • Crossing connections (discrepancies in electrical wiring)
  • Tools/parts forgotten
  • Lubrication failure
  • Access panels, fairings, or cowlings, fuel or oil caps and fuel panels not secured
  • Lock pins not removed

3 Plane Crashes That Changed Aviation

'A Lufthansa Airbus A320 almost crashed due to a reversed wiring of the flight controls.'

It was March 20, 2001, when a Lufthansa Airbus A320 almost crashed shortly after takeoff, simply because of the reversed wiring that was done on the captain's sidestick flight control. It was by virtue of the co-pilot's quick reaction, whose side stick was not faulty, that a tragic crash was prevented. The investigation then focused on the maintenance of the captain's controls undertaken just before the flight. It was found that during the previous flight, there was a problem with one of the two elevator/aileron computers (ELAC). An electrical pin in the connector was damaged and was duly replaced. It was later found that the two pairs of pins within the connector were accidentally switched during maintenance. This caused a change in polarity in the side stick resulting in the "bypassing" of the control unit (which might have sensed the error. There might have been "clues" seen on the electronic centralized aircraft monitor (ECAM) screen during the flight control checks, but pilots often only verify a deflection indication and not the direction. Before the aircraft left, a flight control check was performed by the mechanic, but only with the first officer's sidestick.

'A ValuJet Airlines McDonnell-Douglas DC-9 crashed into the Everglades about 11 minutes after taking off'

The flight was regularly scheduled from Miami to Atlanta, but on May 11, 1996, the plane crashed into the Everglades only about 11 minutes after taking off due to a cargo compartment fire caused by the improper storage of cargo. The crash killed all 110 passengers on board. Because the airline already had a bad reputation before the crash, this accident shed light on the airline's problems. ValuJet was suspended for several months after the aforementioned accident and when they resumed operations their reputation was so tarnished that they had to merge with AirTran Airways and to go through a process of rebranding. To date, this accident remains one of the deadliest aviation accidents in the history of Florida.

'Delta Air Lines Flight 1288 experienced an uncontained, catastrophic turbine engine failure'

The regular flight from Pensacola, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia on a McDonnell Douglas MD-88 that had Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219 turbofan engines went through an uncontained, disastrous turbine engine failure. The main cause of the accident was the debris from a compressor hub on an engine that penetrated the left aft fuselage. Two passengers were killed in during this incident and two more were badly injured. Fortunately, the pilot was able to abort the takeoff and the plane was stopped on the runway.

What to Do If You Are Involved in an Aviation Accident in Miami

As with any vehicular accident, a person involved in an airplane crash landing/runway accident is eligible to take legal action against either the pilot or the airlines/airplane manufacturer as per the airplane regulations. The organizations or businesses that are responsible for the operation of the plane, the construction of the plane, and the maintenance of the plane have to face the legal recourse. If an aviation attorney is able to prove that the negligence of one of the parties mentioned here has caused your injury, then you are eligible for compensation. In addition, the designers, the manufacturers as well as the marketers of specific parts that have malfunctioned on an aircraft can be held liable. The pilots, their employers, and any person involved in the aircraft's failure, which may include the original designers can be liable.

Historically speaking, about 20% of all accidents are a result of a machine failure, and as much as 80% of all accidents have been caused by human factors. A series of human errors also referred to as a chain of events are primary reasons for accidents. If this chain is broken at the maintenance level itself, the likelihood of tragic accidents may be drastically reduced.

If you are a victim of Florida airplane crash landings/runway accidents, you may obtain compensation from these parties for their medical/hospital bills, mental anguish, punitive damages, pain and suffering, loss of income, and loss of consortium. It is highly recommended, when dealing with such an incident, to hire an experienced attorney who will make sure that you will receive the maximum amount of compensation.

At The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary, we understand what you are going through, and we know how to help. We are a results-oriented law firm, committed to justice for every client we represent. We care about our clients and are always prompt in returning your phone calls and emails. We keep you in the loop at every stage of the process. Contact our Miami aviation accident attorney Sean M. Cleary, today at 305.416.9805 for a free case evaluation.


For questions and free legal advice to help individuals please call us

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.