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Human error as a leading cause of occupant mortality in air taxi commuter crashes in Alaska 1990-1999.

Moran KA; Conway GA; Bensyl D
NOIRS 2003-Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2003, October 28-30, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh, PA: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2003 Oct; :39
Commuter and air taxi crashes are the leading cause of occupational fatalities in Alaska, and pose a significant economic and social impact to passengers and communities. National studies have indicated that "human error" forms the leading probable cause in 70-80 percent of all aircraft crashes. The purpose of this study was to examine Alaska crash data, including probable cause and human performance to identify appropriate risk-reduction strategies to improve occupant survivability. Using 1990-1999 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) records, applying a retrospective case control approach, the authors compared fatal (n=120) and nonfatal (n=577) air taxi and commuter crashes occurring in Alaska for probable cause (the leading factor that caused the event) and pilot performance. Preliminary evidence demonstrates that of all crashes with known causes (n=679) 78 percent were attributed to "human error" (87.7% of fatal crashes and 81 % of nonfatal). Significant associations were found between fatality and phase of flight (odds ratio (OR)=8.35, 95% confidence interval (CI): 5.36, 13.00); weather (OR=6.44, 95% CI: 3.94, 10.52); and pilot error (OR=2.29, 95% CI: 1.27,4.13). Those crashes attributable to mechanical defect were significantly associated with a nonfatal outcome (OR=0.35, 95% CI: 0.17, 0.72). A significant association was found between pilot error and FAR operation (OR=1.52, 95%CI: 1.04, 2.22). Pilot performance in inclement weather, during cruise and maneuver phases of flight appear to contribute disproportionally to the frequency of serious crashes. Possible interventions could include better training and application for pilots in aeronautical decision-making, weather recognition, risk management and emergency procedures. Possible interventions might also include standardized enforcement of operational control and Federal Aviation Regulations. Better initial training in how to fly, training in local conditions/regions, supervision of new pilots, and systematic progression in flight difficulty might also reduce the number of human performance error crashes.
Occupational-accidents; Occupational-hazards; Mortality-data; Mortality-rates; Motor-vehicles; Accident-analysis; Accident-rates; Accident-statistics; Risk-analysis; Aircraft; Safety-measures
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NOIRS 2003-Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 2003, October 28-30, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division