What are the most common reasons for airplane failures?

The most common reason for airplane failures is human error. This can include combinations or incidents of general oversight, structural flaws both design and human, flight crew errors, and faulty or misplaced maintenance. And that’s only the beginning.

Let’s look at what the professionals cite as the most common reasons for airplane failures and how a stronger, mobile, and responsive maintenance program can improve aircraft for everyone.

Airplane on a runway

The Common Reasons

According to the FAA, the twelve reasons for common causes of human error on airplanes are:

1. Lack of communication

Many different teams work on the planes, but not all the teams talk to each other as much as they should. This leads to insufficient repair work, which leads to accidents.

2. Complacency

When something keeps working and working, it’s easy to forget that someday, it’s not going to work anymore. Stronger scheduled maintenance practices cut back on this risk.

3. Lack of knowledge

Sometimes, people simply don’t know what to do. This is where a well maintained CMMS and other maintenance software can make a huge difference.

4. Distractions

A distracted maintenance team can and sometimes does let small issues slip through the cracks.

5. Lack of teamwork

Teams that are not well integrated can seriously undermine routine maintenance.

6. Fatigue

Similar to lack of teamwork, if teams are worked too hard or too long, mistakes are usually made.

7. Lack of resources

If the tools and the parts aren't there and are not being used, the airplanes that need them will not have the proper maintenance done.

8. Pressure

Sometimes, management and team leads don’t realize that excess pressure on their employees can have negative results.

9. Lack of assertiveness

This is the employees’ side when management is increasing pressure. If teams are not assertive, then mistakes can quietly stay in the background and not be fixed.

10. Stress

Keeping your teams aware of stress and allowing them to take a break from time to time is key here.

11. Lack of awareness

If it isn’t noticed, it can’t be fixed. This is where maintenance automation can have a huge impact.

12. Unwritten norms or rules.

Finally, each workplace is very different and has different unwritten norms, rules, and expectations. Sometimes, these get in the way of proper maintenance.

Why These Mistakes Happen

When these causes are written out, it seems like certain things should be changed at once. Get more resources. Change up the teams to promote awareness. Incentivize communication. And other such noble goals and ideas propose themselves to anyone who will listen.

Sadly, many of the same human errors will keep happening, no matter what bright ideas are implemented and adopted. To complicate matters even more, when airline software systems go down, it’s a major problem for hundreds of people.

However, the alternative is staggeringly worse. What are some things that can dramatically improve the experience and lower the risk for all concerned?

How a Strong Maintenance Program Helps

One of the key players in the twelve reasons airplanes fail is faulty maintenance. This can be faulty methods, practices, communication and more.

A strong maintenance program, such as a CMMS, can significantly decrease human error. Aviation professionals should keep a close inventory of all equipment and parts, so that if breakdowns occur, there are clear protocols in place to respond to situations. Additionally, having a preventive maintenance program in place, such as routine checks of aircrafts, would significantly reduce the need to respond to emergency situations.


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