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From the time the Wright Brothers first made for the skies, flying has seen some incredible improvements. With all the fancy tech and safety rules we have now, flying has become one of the safest ways to get around. But, guess what? Accidents still occur, and not all of them are because of wonky engines.

Nope, human stuff plays a big part too. This is often caused by negligence and that is why you may need to enlist the services of a Houston aviation accident lawyer.

Let us look at some of the most notable aviation accidents caused by human factors.

1.     Tenerife Airport Disaster (1977)

As two giants of the sky, the Pan American World Airways Flight 1736 and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Flight 4805, patiently wait on the foggy runway, a perfect storm of errors begins to brew.

Here’s where the communication breakdown kicks in. The air traffic controllers are scrambling to keep up with the influx of grounded planes, and the radio lines are humming with chatter. Pan Am is informed about a possible route to an alternate airport, but the message gets a bit lost in translation. They start taxiing down the runway, while KLM, ready for takeoff, and is instructed to wait on the same runway.

Now, remember, these are seasoned pilots. They’ve flown countless hours and faced all sorts of challenges. But in this moment, stress is building up like a pressure cooker. KLM’s captain, thinking he has clearance for takeoff, pushes the throttle forward and barrels down the runway. Meanwhile, Pan Am is still forging ahead, right in KLM’s path.

With limited visibility and radios bustling, neither crew sees the impending doom. These two jumbo jets end up colliding and the impact is catastrophic.

So, where’s the negligence? It’s a combo of things. Miscommunication between the controllers and crews, a sense of urgency, and the KLM pilot’s decision to take off without the right signal – all these factors piled up to create one of many aviation accidents caused by human factors.

2.     Aviation accidents caused by human factors: Air France Flight 447 (2009)

In 2009, Flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, highlighting the dangers of automation dependency.

As the plane sailed through the night sky, a thunderstorm was brewing ahead. As the aircraft entered the storm, things started going awry. The plane’s sensors got a bit confused by the extreme conditions, and the autopilot hands controlled back to the human pilots.

But here’s the catch: the confusion led to a misunderstanding between the pilots about the plane’s actual angle of attack (that’s the angle between the aircraft’s nose and the oncoming airflow).

In this confusion, the plane’s stall warning system activated, blaring alarms and flashing lights. Of course, stalls aren’t something unfamiliar to pilots; but add in the darkness of night, the roar of thunder, and the disorienting turbulence, and suddenly, a straightforward situation becomes a puzzle.

The pilots, grappling with the barrage of warnings and seemingly contradictory information, pulled the nose of the plane up instead of down. You’re probably wondering why they would do that. Well, in highly stressful situations, they do the opposite of what’s needed to recover from a stall.

Unfortunately, this added the flight to the list of aviation accidents caused by human factors.

3.     Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 (1972)

You might think that in this day and age, with all our technological wizardry, flying across the ocean is a breeze. But guess what? Even with all the high-tech gadgets, things can still go haywire, which is why having a skilled Houston aviation accident lawyer is essential.

So, with this particular flight, there was a storm up ahead, lightning was flickering, and turbulence was giving everyone a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Ultimately, the plane’s autopilot hands controlled back to the pilots due to sensor confusion, but here’s where things got twisty.

And here’s the kicker: the stall alarm went off, basically screaming, “Hey, we’re about to lose lift and drop like a rock!” But with all the chaos, confusion, and alarms, the pilots were struggling to put the pieces together.

Long story short, the plane started descending uncontrollably, and despite their best efforts, the pilots couldn’t wrestle it back. Tragically, Air France Flight 447 meets the Atlantic Ocean, with no survivors.

The crew got so engrossed in fixing the indicator light problem that they failed to see the bigger picture – the plane’s gradual descent towards the ground, contributing to the several aviation accidents caused by human factors.

4.     Korean Air Flight 801 (1997)

The captain of this flight had clocked in some serious hours in the air. However, this night, a series of unfortunate events and misunderstandings would lead to disaster.

So, as the plane gets closer to Guam, the weather’s not playing nice. Low visibility and heavy rain aren’t exactly ideal for a smooth landing. The flight crew and air traffic control are in a dance of exchanging crucial information, but it’s here that the story takes a twist.

In Korean culture, it is mandatory to show high respect for someone in authority, even if you have crucial information to contribute, much like the situation faced by the first officer, who’s the second-in-command, during this aviation incident. The first officer noticed things weren’t going as planned, but out of respect for the captain, he hesitated to speak up.

Sadly, due to human error, the Korean Air Flight 801 aircraft ended up crashing into a hillside.

5.     Colgan Air Flight 3407 (2009)

Just like with the previous flight, the pilot of this one was struggling with acute fatigue, which compromised his decision-making abilities.

As the plane descended toward Buffalo, the crew was dealing with a series of alarms due to the icing conditions. They mishandled the response to these alarms, resulting in a stall—a situation where the wings lose lift and the plane can plummet.

The crew’s incorrect reaction to the stall caused the plane to crash into a house, tragically killing all the people on board and one person on the ground adding to the aviation accidents caused by human factors.

6.     Aviation accidents caused by human factors: AirAsia Flight 8501 (2014)

As this plane makes its way through the skies, the crew encounters bad weather. Turbulence and stormy conditions are no strangers to pilots, but sometimes, challenges can escalate unexpectedly.

In this case, the flight crew encounters a fault with the rudder control system, which is used to steer the plane. Now, dealing with a malfunction during flight is part of a pilot’s job, but when multiple systems are affected, things get tricky.

As the crew tries to address the issue, they inadvertently disconnect the autopilot system, a situation that led to one of the several aviation accidents caused by human factors.

Eventually, the aircraft stalls and crashes into the Java Sea.

American Airlines Flight 191 (1979)

This is yet another of the aviation accidents caused by maintenance error.

As the DC-10 aircraft prepared for takeoff, something wasn’t quite right. You see, this plane had recently undergone maintenance work, which included removing and reinstalling the engine and pylon – the part that connects the engine to the wing.

But there was a major oversight: the maintenance team failed to use proper procedures and equipment to ensure the engine and pylon were secure.

Just moments into the flight, the left engine and pylon detached from the wing, leading to a chain reaction that tragically resulted in the plane crashing into a nearby field. Regrettably, all 271 people on board and two people on the ground lost their lives, emphasizing the gravity of such situations and the importance of involving a knowledgeable Houston aviation accident lawyer when investigating the aftermath.

The investigation that followed revealed a chilling reality: improper maintenance practices had led to this catastrophic event. As you can imagine, this would have been reason enough for families of those who lost their lives to file an aviation accident lawsuit, according to this human error in aviation pdf.

7.     China Airlines Flight 611 (2002)

During this flight, something catastrophic occurred. Just 20 minutes after takeoff, the Boeing 747-200 aircraft suddenly disintegrated mid-air, plunging into the Taiwan Strait. The investigation that followed would reveal a sobering truth.

It turned out that this tragic incident was rooted in a maintenance oversight, highlighting the crucial role a Houston aviation accident lawyer can play in such cases. Months before the flight, the aircraft had undergone repairs due to a previous tail strike, where the tail of the plane had hit the runway during a hard landing.

As Flight 611 soared through the skies, the weakened tail structure couldn’t withstand the forces of flight, leading to its catastrophic breakup. The loss of China Airlines Flight 611 claimed the lives of all the people on board and went down in history as one of the major accidents caused by human error.


Even though aviation has come a long way with all those cool gadgets and better rules, human stuff still trips us up sometimes. Those sad stories we’ve seen remind us that pilots need to keep learning, talk better, work together like a team, and create a vibe where speaking up is cool in the cockpit. If we get how humans tick, the skies will be safer for all of us.


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Husain Law Firm

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