Pilot error

Pilot error generally refers to an accident in which an action or decision made by the pilot was the cause or a contributing factor that led to the accident, but also includes the pilot's failure to make a correct decision or take proper action.[2] Errors are intentional actions that fail to achieve their intended outcomes.[3] Chicago Convention defines accident as "An occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft [...] in which [...] a person is fatally or seriously injured [...] except when the injuries are [...] inflicted by other persons."[4] Hence the definition of the "pilot error" does not include deliberate crash (and such crash is not an accident).

1994 Fairchild Air Force Base B-52 crash, caused by flying the aircraft beyond its operational limits. Here the aircraft is seen in an unrecoverable bank, a split second before the crash. This accident is now used in military and civilian aviation environments as a case study in teaching crew resource management.
Actual flight path (red) of TWA Flight 3 from departure to crash point (controlled flight into terrain). Blue line shows the nominal Las Vegas course, while green is a typical course from Boulder. The pilot inadvertently used the Boulder outbound course instead of the appropriate Las Vegas course.
Maraba Airport
Belem Airport
Departure/destination airports and crash site location of Varig Flight 254 (major navigational error leading to fuel exhaustion). The flight plan was later shown to 21 pilots of major airlines. No fewer than 15 pilots committed the same mistake.
Map of the Linate Airport disaster caused by taking the wrong taxiing route (red instead of green), as control tower had not given clear instructions. The accident occurred in thick fog.
The Tenerife airport disaster now serves as a textbook example.[1] Due to several misunderstandings, the KLM flight tried to take off while the Pan Am flight was still on the runway. The airport was accommodating an unusually large number of commercial airliners, resulting in disruption of the normal use of taxiways.
The "three-pointer" design altimeter is one of the most prone to being misread by pilots (a cause of the UA 389 and G-AOVD crashes).

The causes of pilot error include psychological and physiological human limitations. Various forms of threat and error management have been implemented into pilot training programs to teach crew members how to deal with impending situations that arise throughout the course of a flight.[5]

Accounting for the way human factors influence the actions of pilots is now considered standard practice by accident investigators when examining the chain of events that led to an accident.[5][6]


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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Pilot error, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.