Safety Risks in the Modern Aviation Industry | Free Essay Example

Safety Risks in the Modern Aviation Industry

Words: 2810
Topic: Tech & Engineering


The modern globalised world cannot exist without the aviation industry which is the key factor guaranteeing the stable and fast intercourse, transportation, conveyance of air passengers, and cargo delivery. Being a strategic mean of transport, aviation also provides numerous opportunities for the further development of the international relations, states evolution, their participation in the global events, and cultural exchange.

For this reason, the given sphere acquires the top priority nowadays. Much effort is devoted to the creation of conditions beneficial for the further rise of the industry and its becoming the basis for the new globalised world. However, despite the outstanding significance of air services, there are still numerous concerns related to safety. Passengers can face multiple risks that might have fatal consequences because of the character of the industry. In this regard, the given paper is devoted to the critical evaluation of the existing safety risks in defences available to mitigate them.


The question of aviation safety has always been topical for the given sphere. Due to the unique conditions under which aircraft transport passengers and the fatal consequences associated with failures, the price of a mistake is extremely high. That is why peoples safety is the fundamental aspect of the aviation industrys functioning. Much has changed since the first commercial flights, and today air transport is considered one of the safest ones (Abeyratne 2016).

There is no perfect system, which means that there are still crashes that result in hundreds of victims. In this regard, international organisations like IATA, and ICAO introduce a new approach to aviation safety that rests on the correct identification of all existing hazards and creation of defences that might help to reduce the current threat and guarantee that no accident will happen during the flight.

Aviation Safety

Existing international organisations also correctly realise the fact that total elimination of all accidents is unachievable due to the complex character of the industry and numerous factors impacting aircraft, the flight, and staff. Regardless of the complexity of efforts aimed at the risk identification and prevention, failures in different spheres will occur and result in different consequences.

However, there is an attempt to introduce the concept of the controlled safety risks and errors that contribute to the decreased number of accidents and fatalities (IATA 2017). In this regard, the definition of aviation safety implies a particular state characterised by the reduction of the possibility of harm to individuals or property to the minimal, or acceptable level that can be achieved only by the efficient hazard assessment and safety risk management (Benny 2012). This approach to the concept preconditions the focus on the in-depth investigation of the sphere to discover problems and eliminate them.

Current State

At the moment, the majority of airports and organisations responsible for safety accept the approach that is focused on preventing accidents by minimising the probability of error and reducing the negative impact of one or another risk factor. Moreover, this method presupposes the analysis of failures outcomes and unsafe acts of operational personnel to understand the roots of particular problems and ensure the elimination of similar situations in the future (Benny 2012).

The efficiency of this method rests on the correct evaluation of all hazards that might corrupt the functioning of one or another system and in-depth analysis of root causes for their emergence. Under these conditions, risk assessment along with the risk management becomes a key to the successful functioning of airlines and safe transportation of passengers and cargoes. There are several approaches to the identification of threats that introduce a set of hazards that should be considered.


The modern aviation safety hazards can be characterised by the increased complexity that comes from the sophistication of the industry and the increased number of operations needed to ensure a stable flight and deliver passengers or cargoes to particular destination points. The following large groups are introduced to classify existing threats and simplify their analysis: caused by technical, organisational, and human factors (ICAO 2016).

The given pattern helps to trace the causes of the emergence of a particular accident and analyse them better. At the same time, it contributes to the better understanding of the central hazards that endanger aircraft, personnel, passengers, and cargoes. Considering the number of failures caused by one or another factor, it is possible to outline seven significant safety threats that should be analysed. These are foreign objects, false information, weather conditions, fire, operational errors, human factor, and terrorism. The in-depth analysis of all these aspects will help to reduce the probability of mistake and improve the situation in the sphere.

Foreign Objects


Thus, in the aviation sphere, foreign object debris can be defined as a substance or object alien to an aircraft and with an ability to cause substantial damage to it (CASA 2012). Foreign object debris are classified as external and internal ones. Internal one implies all risks that emerge because of foreign objects inside the aircraft. These might include tools, parts of the engine, and pieces of other mechanisms such as jam moving parts, short out connections (CASA 2012).

These objects can cause serious harm to the aircraft because of the vulnerability of engines and other parts of the equipment to inner threats. Special maintenance teams are responsible for the detection and removal of these parts; however, there are cases when the given task becomes complicated, and planes might be damaged in the air (CASA 2012). It becomes a significant hazard to passengers safety and their lives.


External FOD includes materials, substances, or objects that might damage an aircraft from outside. The fact is, that despite much effort devoted to the creation of safer constructions the modern planes still remain vulnerable to this sort of damage because of the interdependence of their systems and complexity of their engines (Price 2013). For this reason, numerous accidents happen because of this factor. Bird strikes are known as one of the oldest and most unpredictable hazards. For instance, on January 19, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 suffered from a flock of geese that cause critical damage to engines and their failure (Cromie et al. 2015).

Due to the pilots successful actions, all lives on board were saved. However, the accident evidences the real danger that comes from this factor and the necessity to consider it while organising flights and guaranteeing safety to passengers and cargoes on board.

Lightning is another external risk to safety that poses a significant threat to aircraft. Despite obvious progress in the sphere of aircraft design, modern crafts remain vulnerable to weather conditions and especially thunderstorms. By the statistics, airliners are struck by lightning at least twice per year (Cromie et al. 2015). The number is high, which means that there is a necessity to protect the aircraft from the given factor.

Due to the latest innovations, the majority of crafts withstand typical lightning strikes without serious damage and continue their flights (Price 2013). However, there are also accidences evidencing the high level of threat associated with the powerful positive lightning which means that no one should disregard this aspect even if substantial damage from it is rare nowadays. At the same time, it evidences the efficiency of the approach to the reduction of hazards as in the 20th century lightning was one of the crucial factors.

Finally, speaking about the external factors, one should mention runaway debris. The fact is that aircraft might lose some small parts while landing or getting off. They can be considered a significant safety hazard because of their negative impact on other crafts which use same runaways or follows the first ones. For instance, on July 25, 2000, Air France Flight 4590 ran over a piece of titanium debris and was totally destroyed as it provoked ignition in the planes fuel tank; all 100 passengers, 9 members of the flight crew, and 4 people on the ground were killed (Price 2013). Investigation showed that the piece was a part of a Continental DC-10. The accident demonstrates the need for the introduction of measures to detect FOD and prevent accidents of this sort in future.

False Information

Another serious threat to the aviation and passengers safety comes from the lack of update information about all factors that might impact the flight and successful landing. A misinformed pilot or any other member of the flight crew might lose spatial orientation or make a crucial mistake that will result in an accident or even crash (Price 2013). At the same time, pilots always remain in contact with the ground service, air communicators, and aerodrome controllers who provide all needed information about the current state of the flight, runaway, weather conditions.

The data exchange between these two actors is critical for the final success; however, the provision of the false information because of any reasons will pose a significant threat to passengers safety. Faulty instrument or indicator might also trigger the development of an unexpected situation. That is why the given aspect remains critical for all agencies such as ICAO, IATA, or FAA.

Weather Conditions

Ice, snow, and wind can also be major aspects resulting in airline accidents which means that despite all attempts to reduce the negative impact of this factor, weather conditions remain a serious safety threat. In accordance with the latest engineering reports, even a small amount of icing or coarse frost on a wing can impact its ability to develop the lifting power needed to guarantee the stable position of the aircraft (Price 2013).

For this reason, ICAO, IATA, and other agencies regulations strongly prohibit ice, snow, and frost on tail and winds during the takeoff stage (IATA 2017; ICAO 2016). At the same time, ice growth during the flight can be crucial because of the high probability of the loss of control and the following crash. That is why the properly de-icing is a key to the safe flight. Moreover, weather control becomes one of the central tasks of airline dispatch offices.


Fire has always been one of the central threats to passengers safety in the sphere of aviation. It has also been the cause of numerous accidents that resulted in different consequences. For instance, ValuJet Flight 592 crashed into the Florida Everglades because of an internal fire in the cargo hold (Price 2013). The result of this crash was that all 110 passengers were found dead. Accidents of this sort demonstrate the necessity to consider fire as one of the central aspects of the safety management. The existing regulations suggested by the international agencies such as ICAO and IATA control materials that can be used for planes and requirements for automated fire systems (IATA 2017; ICAO 2016). They serve as the guarantee that the aircraft will be able to resist fire. However, there are still numerous concerns about the flammability of materials and toxicity of smoke that cause serious damage to all passengers and crew on board.


The modern aircraft can be considered an extremely complex machines with specific software that is used to control thousands of options and different showings to ensure the high level of safety to all passengers and minimise the probability of mistakes that might be associated with the human factor. Additionally, software used in airports by operators and controllers also helps to trace boards and provide them with the needed information.

However, the sophistication of the software and the need to control numerous aspects might result in its failures and problems with aircraft management (Price 2013). At the same time, flight crew might have different misunderstandings regarding the use of these systems and cooperation with them. For this reason, there is a topical need for more reliable systems that will be able to help all workers of the aviation industry to reduce the probability of errors and help passengers to reach their destination points.

Human Factor

Another common case for the emergence of different mistakes resulting in poor or even tragic outcomes is the human factor. It can be determined as workers wrong actions, poor decision making, or disregard of the existing regulations under the impact of stress, decreased attention levels, lack of training and experience, or competence (Cromie et al. 2015). By the statistics, about 40% of all emergent situations in the sphere of aviation appear because of the flight crews inappropriate actions (FAA 2013).

In such a way, it becomes one of the significant threats to passengers safety and can deteriorate the functioning of the whole industry. Additionally, the pernicious impact of the human factor can result in the development of other problems mentioned above as the lack of attention devoted to these aspects contributes to their increased significance and the emergence of the ability to critically impact the aircraft, passengers, and specialists.


Finally, terrorism is the plague of the modern age. It threatens all spheres of the human activity and aviation is not an exclusion. Unfortunately, despite the introduction of innovative security systems, the level of threat remains high as such organisation as ISIS use this radical tool to attract attention to its functioning and scare people (ICAO 2016). The strategic character of the sphere means that it will always become the top target for terrorists as it will affect numerous aspects of the modern world and result in deaths. Today, ICAO and IATA are concerned about this problem and recommend certain measures to minimise the risk and provide passengers with the safest conditions (ICAO 2016). However, there are still loopholes that can be used by malefactors as there is no perfect security system. Anti-terrorist measures are one of the major concerns of the modern aviation sphere.


Regarding the fact, that passengers safety has the top priority for the aviation sphere, there are numerous attempts to create specific defences that will help to reduce the threat and minimise the probability of unexpected outcomes. One of the modern methods to achieve this goal is the introduction of the innovative software responsible for the majority of all critical operations needed to ensure safety and security (Price 2013).

It also helps to provide higher levels of cooperation and understanding between all departments and the flight crew. Specialists working in the sphere of aviation security assume that introduction of software of new generation will help to solve multiple problems connected with the false or incomplete information along with the misunderstandings due to the failures in different systems (IATA 2017).

Another defence presupposes reequipment of airports with the primary aim to minimise a threat that comes from FOD. For instance, Miami International Airport has a specific FOD detection system that identifies the location of all undesired objects and sends a message to warn the flight crew and airport workers (FAA 2013). This tools are given significant attention because of their promising character and the ability to reduce the level of threat that comes from FOD significantly (FAA 2013). The installation of similar systems in the majority of international airports is considered a key to the improved safety and absence of crashes caused by foreign objects.

Another focus area related to the creation of defences needed to minimise the level of threat is the creation of more reliable aircraft protected from the pernicious impact of weather factors, FOD, birds, ash, lightning, and internal objects (Abeyratne 2016). The majority of modern planes were designed in the past century which means that there is a need for their replacement with new more protected ones to ensure the high level of safety to passengers (Abeyratne 2016). There is a new generation of vehicles that is characterised by the improved ability to resist multiple factors. In such a way, certain progress in the given sphere can be admitted.

Finally, additional training is one of the fundamental aspects of the decreased risk of the emergence of threats to safety. In the majority of cases associated with the human factor, the lack of specific training and competence is one of the root causes for the emergence of misunderstandings or fatal errors resulting in dramatic consequences, crashes, and deaths (Abeyratne 2016). For this reason, the creation of the framework characterised by the continuous improvement of workers skills and knowledge regarding specific areas, is the key to the improved functioning of the airport industry.


Altogether, safety is one of the major concerns of the modern aviation sphere. The existing definition of the term presupposes the reduction of the level of threat to the appropriate measures. For this reason, there are numerous attempts to reduce the probability of failures to protect passengers. However, there are still many hazards such as FOD, weather conditions, human factor, lightning, terrorism, fire, and false information, that should be considered. The existing regulations and defences help to mitigate their negative impact, but there is the need to engage in the continuous improvement of security and safety systems to create the basis for the stable functioning of the aviation.

Reference List

Abeyratne, R 2016, Rulemaking in air transport, Springer, Montreal.

Benny, D 2012, General aviation security: aircraft, hangars, fixed-base operations, flight schools, and airports, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

CASA 2012, Safety risk management. Web.

Cromie, S, Ross, D, Corrigan, S, Liston, P, Darragh, L, & Demosthenous, E 2015, ‘Integrating human factors training into safety management and risk management: a case study from aviation maintenance’, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part O: Journal of Risk and Reliability, vol. 229, no. 3, pp. 266-274.

FAA 2013, Fact sheet – foreign object debris (FOD). Web.

IATA 2017, Safety report. Web.

ICAO 2016, Safety report. Web.

Price, J 2013, Practical aviation security, second edition: predicting and preventing future threats (Butterworth-Heinemann homeland security), Butterworth-Heinemann, New York, NY.