Airplanes never crash because of a single problem. It’s almost always a combination of factors that leads to an accident. Although flying is extremely safe, typical reasons why planes crash include pilot error, technical failures, bad weather, terrorism, and pilot fatigue.
There is never a single cause attributed to the pilot of a plane crash. For example, if the plane suffers a serious technical problem (but which should not result in the loss of an aircraft) and is mishandled by the pilots resulting in a crash, does that count as a pilot error or mechanical failure? The mechanical failure alone should not have meant the plane crashed, but could have been handled properly by the pilots. Therefore, both are causal factors.
Consequently, the statistics made available on the causes of aircraft accidents are not always clear. However, it is widely accepted that the following statistics are a reasonable representation of the main reason for plane crashes:
- 55% driver error
- 17% aircraft mechanical error
- 13% Weather
- 8% sabotage
- 7% Other (ATC, Ground Support, Unknown)
Examples of pilot error include “loss of control in flight” and “CFIT” (flight without loss of control).