Air travel is undoubtedly the safest way to travel. This claim is best expressed by a statement of an aviation researcher at the University of Miami, Earl Wiener who stated that in USA alone "There are 15,000 to 20,000 takeoffs a day. Half a billion passengers a year, in a hostile environment, get to their destination safely and quickly" (Chandler, 1996,p.52). While we encounter almost daily news about land transportation mishaps and regularly hear news of ships, large or small, sinking in seas, air transportation mishaps come far and in between. Thus, it is the best preferred means to travel, especially involving long distances. Because of such growing transport demand, the number of aircraft in operation is constantly on the rise while bigger, behemoth aircrafts which are capable of transporting a large number of people are being built. Thus, when air accidents occur, we hear of many people perishing in such accidents.
Despite the fact that modern airplanes are now designed to be as safe as possible and are now built with stronger materials with more powerful engines and at faster speeds and are much bigger and heavier and with improvement in its equipment and its operation that practically ensures safety, yet airplane crashes still occur (Grolier, 1994). In January 2010 alone, 2 airplanes crashed i.e. one involving the Ethiopian Airlines that crashed in Beirut, Lebanon and killing all 90 people on board (Walker, 2010) and the other one involving the Alaska Central
Air Disaster 3
Express cargo airplane that crashed off Sand Point, Alaska and snuffing the lives of the 2 pilots aboard (Anchorage Daily News, 2010). It seems that airplane mishaps is inevitable and that
people concerned have no option but prepare a good emergency response plan and management to mitigate the disaster and rescue whatever can be rescued.
Statistics show that from 1954 to 2004, 1402 crashes had occurred and that 25,664 lives had perished in the process (1001crash.com). It is also a known fact that more than 50% of all accidents occur during the final approach and landing stages. But what is considered more dangerous is the climbing stage of the aircraft, where fatal accidents may occur. It is possible that airplane defects may go undetected as the plane leaves the gate but such defect will become apparent when the plane takes off the ground and begins climbing. When the pilots realize that such defect exists, they