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Airline Industry Response To Natural Disasters Engineering Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Engineering
Wordcount: 4246 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Thinking about a natural disaster is never a pleasant memory or imagination. The disasters like tsunami bring frightening memory of all the events which took place when and after it striked the cities. Interestingly, it is a very strange fact that man has made some disasters for themselves, which would include nuclear disasters which were used at times in situations like wars. What lesson did we get from past, to minimize the effect of disasters like mentioned above, How can we make this world peaceful?

What does it have to do with airline industry?

Importance of data extracted from natural disaster in relation to airline industry.

Research Methodology:

Primary Source:

In order to research the possible causes of disaster in aviation industry we need to look into wide variety of factors such availablility and access of information etc and considering all of the these factor I believe that the best to way to find out and assess data in order achieve the objective of my research I will have to look into the data that is readily available in books or on internet or any of other secondary source.

Secondary Research:

Secondary which is available at secondary source must be realiable and relevant though internet is one of the biggest source of information but I have to make distinction on whether I can rely on the data present at some sites or I can’t rely.

Aviation disasters:

Aviation disasters would include space shuttle and aviation disasters. Disasters which took place in aviation industry are seen on headlines of a television or newspapers quite often and the rate of survival is somewhat like one in three. Challenger shuttle disaster was seen globally when it exploded. Many people witnessed it live when it burst right after it took off. Technical problems are cause of disasters in twenty percent of the time.

Luckily the statistics say that being killed in an aviation crash would be one in eleven million.

Major disasters in aviation industry are as follows.

Disaster of Challenger – The space Shuttle. Date: Jan – 28 – 1986.

Just few seconds late when the challenger took off, it exploded in the air and made the air full of smoke. The loss in monetary terms was 5.5 Billion dollars in present value

What was the cause of the crash?

A malfunction O-ring was on the record told as the cause of the crash. The O-ring could perform its function for which it was used because of cold temperatures which made its sealing to fail one of the joints correctly. The outcome was forceful gas leaking to externally into the air consequently causing explosion.

Disaster of American Airline – Flight 191, Date: May – 25 – 1979.

This crash was a huge loss of human life, in total two hundred and seventy three people died in the crash. The cause of the crash was investigated. It turned out that an engine which was separated from the wing resulting additional disaster as the engine separation had worsened the situation. Moreover, the engine broke and flew 3 feet of the leading corner of the wing with it causing the airliner to burst in the air.

Disaster of Japan Airline, Date: Aug – 12 – 1985.

The crash took place right after the plan departure again a big human lost of five hundred and twenty casualties. The cause of the crash was declared officially as a rapture of a rear bulkhead.

Sometimes aviation industry is not responsible for events which make the disaster to happen for example, change in weather.

Natural Disaster causing by weather,

Many natural disasters in the history did not happened because of a faulty piece of device or negligence by any engineer, staff, or pilot. Infact many times it happens due to bad weather. Against nature one can’t survive so there is nothing much can be done except that weather forecast is seen and flights are flied accordingly.

What become the cause of a plan crash

Misinformation and lack of information

Misinformation would lead ultimately to a plane crash no doubt, a pilot will fly the aeroplane believing on a document which is not accurate then there is a fair chance that crash could take place. Control room or control towers become the cause of the plash crash on numerous occasions as they keep informing pilot the wrong information, pilot acts upon those and plan becomes the victim

Bad Weather – Lightening

It has been revealed from the past studies that aeroplanes which are victims of the lightening are on average 2 planes per year. Where airlines crew also experience low force lightening on regular basis which are not as threatening as the strong ones.

Bad Weather – Ice and Snow

Conditions in which snow is falling become the reason of a plane crash many times. Flight 1248 of Southwest Airlines couldn’t take a proper runway and slided from a snowy runway on Dec -08 – 2005 The December 8, 2005. As we see on a road it is difficult to drive, same thing happens on the runway.

Icing of wing is turning out to be another big matter. Just a little amount of ice can make the wings to lift big time. This situation will not let airliner to take off. Evidence speak that Flight 4184 of American Eagle Airliner became the victim of this situation of in which sixty eight people were killed.

Engine malfunctioning.

Besides, airliners have the tendency and capability to fly now even after the engine malfunctioning has occurred during the flight But this is of course a very serious situation. In 1970 the airliner crash of Dominicana DC-9, the oil spoilage made engine failure. In this situation the emergency landing should be an important factor.

Gimli Glider incident which occurred in the 1983, one of the Canadian Airliner suffered from a situation where they ran out of fuel, this situation pushed pilot to make an emergency landing Emergency landing was successful few minor injuries came to the passenger of the air craft.

The more severe type of engine malfunctioning occurred in flight 191 of American Airliners resulted a lot of damage to the airliner.

Metal weakness

Metal weakness is a type of malfunctioning in a part of the body of airliner.

Notable disasters are as follows

Airliner crash in Kegworth Jan – 8 – 1989

Disasters in 1953 and 1954 of De Havilland Comets

Flight 243 crash in Aloha

Now after a lot of incidents, non destructive procedures have been implemented.


Materials which are made up of layers and fibered are fitted in resin matrix. In few circumstances, especially when endanger to cyclic stress, the fibbers may rip the matrix, the layers of the material then unconnected from each other a process called delamination.

Airliners are facing delamination problems, but luckily most were found prior to disaster..


There is a point in time in a flight where wings of the airliner do not give the flight required lift, which is very hazardous and dangerous which instantly causes the plan to crash unless the situation is not tackled properly by pilot. There are certain devices which are being used to warn the pilot when speed of the plan is getting very near to stall speed. Beeps and horns as a warning would show.

Noted crashes reasoning full stall of the airfoils:

Jun 18, 1972 , flight 548 of British European Airways

Jul 10, 1985, flight 7425 of Aeroflot

Dec 12, 1985, flight of Arrow Air

Aug 16, 1987, flight of Northwest Airlines

August 31, 1988, flight of Delta Air Lines

Dec 8, 1972, flight 553 of United Airlines

Crashes Due to Fire

There are some requirements and procedures laid down by Safety regulations to control aircraft materials. What happens most of the time, these requirements are actually the tests. The tests measure the probability of toxicity and the flammability of smoke.

The toxic type of smoke is generated after the fire on an aircraft, which has been the main cause of the accidents. In 1983 a Canadian flight 797 caused twenty three deaths out of forty six passengers. It was caused by an electrical fire, consequences of which were fatal after the aircraft got filled with smoke..

Crash Due to Bird strike

This is a common type of incident when a bird strikes to an air craft result of this collusion could be deadly. Many deadly incidents have occurred in the past due to this collusion. In 1988 Flight 737 of Ethiopian Airlines pulled pigeons into the engines result of which was airliner plan crash when pilot tried to get the plane to Bahir Dar Airport. Human loss amounted to thirty five where as twenty one people were injured. One another bird collusion happened with flight Dassault Falcon 20 which was trying to make an emergency landing on airport of Paris and crashed. Ten people died in consequence of this crash. Canadian birds Geese were pulled into the engines of Unites States Airways Which caused engines to fail and crashed in an attempt of emergency landing.

Crash due to Ground damage

Airliners are most of the time damaged by equipment used at the airport. While giving service to the craft, flights experience a great deal of danger. A small negligence may have to pay lives of hundreds.

In Dec 26 2005, flight 536 of Alaska Airlines went through a situation where baggage handler striked the side of the airliner. It caused some damage to skin of aircraft. This damage was not seriously taken and reported and the plan took off at altitude of twenty six thousand feet. The damage section could not tolerate the inner and outer air pressure which was not equal at that time. The cabin depressurized. After the crash close examination of fuselage was done and it found out that there was a hole in between cargo doors.

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Crash due to Volcanic ash

Over the last few decades, there have been several incidents where pilots suddenly found themselves in emergency situations because of an encounter with volcanic ash. In 1980, the eruption of Mount St. Helen’s damaged two commercial jets. They both landed safely. In 1989, ash from Alaska’s Mount Redoubt crippled a 747 aircraft, but that plane also made it safely to the ground.

Perhaps the most frightening incident happened on a British Airways Flight 009 in 1982 from Indonesia to New Zealand.

The massive volcanic eruption in Iceland created a thick cloud of dust thousands of feet high and wide, forcing European airlines to cancel hundreds of flights. Airborne volcanic ash has always posed a serious danger for aircraft specifically for their engines. Once all passengers on a jet were treated to a window view of a huge ash plume as a flight from Canada to the Caribbean skirted by a massive volcanic eruption on the island of Montserrat.

Aviation risks of flight through downstream ash cloud

Volcanic consists of small tephra, which are bits of pulverized rock and glass created by volcanic eruptions, less than 2 millimetres (0.079 in) in diameter. There are three mechanisms of volcanic ash formation: gas release under decompression causing magmatic eruptions; thermal contraction from chilling on contact with water causing phreatomagmatic eruptions, and ejection of entrained particles during steam eruptions causing phreatic eruptions.

The violent nature of volcanic eruptions involving steam results in the magma and solid rock surrounding the vent being torn into particles of clay to sand size. Volcanic ash can lead to breathing problems and malfunctions in machinery, and clouds of it can threaten aircraft and alter weather patterns.

Ash deposited on the ground after an eruption is known as ashfall deposit. Significant accumulations of ashfall can lead to the immediate destruction of most of the local ecosystem, as well the collapse of roofs on man-made structures. Over time, ashfall can lead to the creation of fertile soils. Ashfall can also become cemented together to form a solid.

Crash due to Human Factors

Crashes due to human factors could be made upfront by pilot and this is a inherent risk. At the moment this is the most common cause of airplanes to crash. After world war two there has been a decline in human errors which lead to crash.

Causes of Fatal Accidents by Decade (percentage)









 Pilot Error








 Pilot Error  (weather related)








 Pilot Error (mechanical related)








 Total Pilot Error








 Other Human Error
















 Mechanical Failure
















 Other Cause








What kind of equipments airlines provide to passengers to handle these situations

What losses they get because of natural disasters, and what kind of changes they do need to be more good in tackling these situations

Accident which is cuased by a natural disaster, is one of the type of aviation accident. The term aviation accident which is explained by Annex 13 of CICA ( Conenvtion on International Civil aviation) that when a flight aircraft has been boarded with people with intention to flight and then it suffers from any damager, faiulure or the aircraft which is not in access completely.

It is further defined that an accident which happened in aviation industry as any miss happening which has happened other than aircraft operation which puts safety of operations into effect.

Losses from Natural Disaster

Human Loss

The biggest loss one could get is the life. Life once gone can’t be reversed and brought back where as any other kind of damage or loss could be repairable. So in direct consequence of airliner crash, major loss to account for would surely be the loss of life. We can categorized human loss on that aircraft on two categories which are as follows.

Passenger loss

People who boarded to the plane in order to find their destination, if find their selves in a situation where they have to face deadly cicumstances, would be a scary thought. This is what happens when an aeroplane is crashed. In some accident passengers are survived and in some cases non of the passenger survive depending upon the seriousness of the crash.

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The loss Isnot limited to the fact the a passenger of the airline company islost but it goes far behind because plane crashe result in the widespread bad publicity of the company whose aeroplane has been crashed and also of htose companies who had made that plane and therefore in order to protect the potential loss of revenue from the loss of business and laos losss of revenue from the potential customers who would have flied with the company had the accident not take place .

Aeroplane Crew loss

Another important loss that airline companies susfffered is the loss of the crew staff who were on board within the plane. The crew staff is vey important for the company and therefore must be protected because together with loss of human life the loss crew means a loss of trained staff and to trained a new staff to replace existing would be very costly and therefore airline companies crew staff is very valuable for them .

Monetary Loss:

Another important losss for airline companies arising as aresult of plane crash is the cost of plane and cost of other amneties present in the plane. This is very significant cost and therefore in order to avoid this cost airline companies must take every protective measure and cost on avoiding plane crash and accident would be far less than cost of the buying a new plane and other amneties together other financial obligation arisingas a result of death of staff and therefore the payment of compensation.

If a airline company is insure than the insurer will pay the expenses depend on conditions of insurance but for a airline company with high accident rate the insurance runs high and therefore one of financial loss if airline company couldn’t suffer from financial loss than its long term cost of insurance will go high.

Damage to aircraft

The accident result in damaging of aircraft and in big accident the aircraft will may damage to the extend that airline company to sell the aircraft and therefore its one of big losses come as result of accidents.

Damage caused by aircraft

Often there is situations when aircraft got a fault technical fault result in harm to the health of passengers as well as employee of airline company .

The safety has become a prime importance in the aviation industry especially in recent times when airline companies are struggling to attract customers and customer s ar more aware In this dynamic business environment and the purchase of aircraft is one of these basic thing to start with and therefore the two big aircraft manufacturing companies namely Boeing which is based in United State of America and Airbuus whose roots are in Europe place a prime importance on the proper and well supervise or trained use of equipements .

The airline industry is multimillion dollars industry with therefore there is increasingly more importance is place on safety issues affecting an airline company as they realize that in this competitive environment the way to survival lies in the taking proper safety measures without which the survival of the company will be jeopardize.

The following are the few of the essential device which must be thee in a aircraft

The evacuation slide: these are vey important because the aid the passenger for the emergency exit incase the fire catch the aircraft or other cases.

Advanced avionics – Computerized auto-recovery and alert systems.

Turbine engines – durability and failure containment improvements

Landing gear – that can be lowered even after loss of power and hydraulics.

Air travel as every one is the fastest travel and transportation than other and therefore air travel is also believe to be most safest one as well.

The bbc quoted that airline travel is actually the bes, fastest cum safe journey when it is assess with other forms of travelling using indicator such fatality per mile basis and it is belive to be more than six times fast than the car and moe than half risky than train.

But statistic suggest that when measuring fatality per transported person basis the the airline travel is not safest but the buses are safest while the airline is only safer than bicycle m and motor bikes which are most fatal transportation mode.

Staisitc also suggest that when measure the billion kilometres travelled airline has twelve less rate than train if we consider the data over a billion journeys it comes that buses are safest way of travel adn airline lies at the very last where ailine comes at last if compared statistic show that airtravel is significantly dangerous and statis suggest the rate as 30 times more than bus while if compare with car travel it is three times more risky.

To asses the cause behind the accident there were signicant number investigation carried out and one of them was related with gol transportese aeros flight where the the airforce of brazil and thereafter a study was carried out to asses the cause of crash .

In the year of 2007 a study conducted by Popular Mechanics shows that those passenger who have theri seats in the front portion of plane have high degree survival rate means the back portion passengers have almost 40% reduce chance that they will survive.

Though after publishing of study the Beoing and wbsite of sircraft safety and FAA every one claim that the conclusion drawn by this study saying the front sear s safest is correct although study all of these resource in the study. During of the course of this study they researcher studied 20 crashes and draw their conclusion but one of pitfall of the study ws that study did not taken oinot account the development of safety after these incident but the interesting fact is that flight data recorder is actually in the tail of the flight it is considered to be the safest area to place it in and statistic suggest that flight safety recorder is very much likely to survive and have infact survive the severe accidents during 1983 till 2000

Safest place in palne to sit:

There is no single evidence suggesting that any place in the plane is safest but few people suggest and prove it with their logic that there is some place in the plane which is more safe than other and that is th e lower part of plane or called rear of the plane/

While there is some evidence to suggest that the rear of the plane is the safest part, this is by no means always true. Speaking in an interview in January 1973, a survivor of the 1972 Andes crash, Alfredo Delgado, had an ominous feeling that the plane was going to crash and tried to sit in the rear of the plane before take-off, believing that it was the safest spot. He told reporters “I was so convinced that I sat on a seat at the back, because my experience told me that the plane’s tail was much safer than the other parts of the plane.”

After having been told by the cabin crew that the back seats were reserved, Delgado had to move and ended up in a seat in the middle of the plane, “I saved my life by not being seated at the tail, because the tail came off the rest of the plane’s body,” he concluded. Similarly, one of the few survivors of the Madrid plane crash in August 2008, 30 year old Briton Kim Tate Perez, survived the crash because she had been sitting in row 6, the exact spot where the plane ripped in two, throwing her clear of the wreckage.[citation needed]

Emergency airplane evacuations

According to a 2000 report by the National Transportation Safety Board, emergency airplane evacuations happen about once every 11 days in the U.S. While some situations are extremely dire, such as when the plane is on fire, in many cases the greatest challenge for passengers can be the use of the airplane slide. In a TIME article on the subject, Amanda Ripley reported that when a new supersized Airbus A380 underwent mandatory evacuation tests in 2006, 33 of the 873 evacuating volunteers got hurt. While the evacuation was generally considered a success, one volunteer suffered a broken leg, while the remaining 32 received slide burns. Such accidents are common. In her article, Ripley provides tips on how to make it down the airplane slide without injury.[34]

[edit] Runway safety

Main article: Runway#Runway_safety

Several terms fall under the flight safety topic of runway safety, including incursion, excursion, and confusion.

Runway excursion is an incident involving only a single aircraft, where it makes an inappropriate exit from the runway. This can happen because of pilot error, poor weather, or a fault with the aircraft.[citation needed] Overrun is a type of excursion where the aircraft is unable to stop before the end of the runway. A recent example of such an event is Air France Flight 358 in 2005. Further examples can be found in the overruns category.

Runway event is another term for a runway accident.[citation needed]

Runway incursion involves a first aircraft, as well as a second aircraft, vehicle, or person. It is defined by the U.S. FAA as: “Any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface designated for the landing and take off of aircraft.”[35]

Runway confusion involves a single aircraft, and is used to describe the error when the aircraft makes “the unintentional use of the wrong runway, or a taxiway, for landing or take-off”.[36] An example of a runway confusion incident is Comair Flight 191.

Runway excursion is the most frequent type of landing accident, slightly ahead of runway incursion.[37] For runway accidents recorded between 1995 and 2007, 96% were of the ‘excursion’ type.[37]

The U.S. FAA publishes an lengthy annual report on runway safety issues, available from the FAA website here. New systems designed to improve runway safety, such as Airport Movement Area Safety System (AMASS) and Runway Awareness and Advisory System (RAAS), are discussed in the report. AMASS prevented the serious near-collision in the 2007 San Francisco International Airport runway incursion.


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