A Preliminary Investigation of Maintenance Contributions to Commercial Air Transport Accidents
by Fatima Najeeb Khan, Ayiel Ayiel, John Murray, Glenn Baxter and Graham Wild
(This article belongs to the Aerospace Journal Special Issue Civil and Military Airworthiness: Recent Developments and Challenges (Volume II))
Aircraft maintenance includes all the tasks needed to ensure an aircraft’s continuing airworthiness. Accidents that result from these maintenance activities can be used to assess safety. This research seeks to undertake a preliminary investigation of accidents that have maintenance contributions. An exploratory design was utilized, which commenced with a content analysis of the accidents with maintenance contributions (n = 35) in the official ICAO accident data set (N = 1277), followed by a quantitative ex-post facto study. Results showed that maintenance contributions are involved in 2.8 ± 0.9% of ICAO official accidents. Maintenance accidents were also found to be more likely to have one or more fatalities (20%), compared to all ICAO official accidents (14.7%). The number of accidents with maintenance contributions per year was also found to have reduced over the period of the study; this rate was statistically significantly greater than for all accidents (5%/year, relative to 2%/year). Results showed that aircraft between 10 and 20 years old were most commonly involved in accidents with maintenance contributions, while aircraft older than 18 years were more likely to result in a hull loss, and aircraft older than 34 years were more likely to result in a fatality.