The most common cause of airplane crashes is human error. According to the BBC, up to 50 percent of all airline accidents can be attributed to pilot error, but the Baltic Aviation Academy suggests that the number may be as high as 70 percent. Frequent factors that contribute to human error resulting in a crash include striking wires, losing control of the plane or flying into the water or land.
According to PlaneCrashInfo.com, the incidence of pilot error has increased and decreased over time. In the 1940s, 40 percent of crashes were attributed to pilot error. This fell in the 1970s, when only 24 percent of all accidents were caused by pilot error. The number of accidents caused by human error climbed to 26 percent in the 1980s and 27 percent in the 1990s. During the 2000s, the number of accidents caused by human error grew to the highest level recorded since the 1940s. In total, human error accounted for 30 percent of the accidents in the 2000s.
Commercial airliners feature crews of three or four, which has caused some accidents to result from poor communications. This problem was particularly noteworthy for Korean Air’s numerous accidents in the 1980s and 1990s. Apparently, subordinate officers were reluctant to point out potential problems to their superiors due to the cultural climate.