A plane tragedy occurred in world aviation history on May 21 in South Carolina when James Harper, a 60-years-old American Airlines pilot, was killed when his small private Piper PA-31 crashed shortly after takeoff from Myrtle Beach International Airport, reported The NY Post.

According to investigators, Harper’s private plane crashed because a key part was installed upside down and backward after maintenance.

According to investigators looking at the plane wreckage, the elevator trim tabs were fitted backward and upside down. When placed correctly, the tabs assist pilots in maintaining a steady ascent or descent without exerting excessive energy.

A preliminary accident report from the National Transportation Safety Board discovered the small plane’s primary and secondary flight controls had been removed, painted, and reinstalled two days before the crash.

Harper radioed air traffic controllers almost immediately after taking off for a short trip to North Myrtle Beach on May 21 at 6:15 p.m., stating that he needed to return to the airport.

When controllers asked if he needed any assistance, Harper responded “yes, we’re in trouble.” They did not hear from him again.

During its two minutes in the air, the plane rose and dropped erratically.

The report did not specify who was responsible for the plane’s maintenance. The federal government will release a more thorough investigation later.

Despite the fact that plane crashes continue to scare people, air travel is by far the safest means of transportation.

Since the invention of air travel, there have been several catastrophic air disasters and mishaps involving commercial flights. As the popularity of flying grew, so did the number of people killed or injured in plane crashes. 

It’s worth noting that each accident resulted in new breakthroughs and standardizations in aviation safety and technology.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority, the fatality rate per billion kilometres travelled by plane is 0.003 compared to 0.27 by rail and 2.57 by car.

Statistically, you have a higher chance of being killed riding a bicycle or even by lightning. The chances of dying in an air crash in the U.S. or Europe are estimated to be 29 million to one.

Since the 1950s, fatal accidents have decreased every decade, a noteworthy success given the tremendous expansion in air travel since then.

In the United States, there were 40 fatal accidents per million aircraft departures in 1959. Within ten years, this had dropped to fewer than two per million departures, and it now hovers around 0.1 per million.

Although the advent of the jet engine in the 1950s stands out as a key development, various factors have contributed to the improvement in airline safety.

The development of electronics, most notably the introduction of digital instrumentation—dubbed the glass cockpit in the 1970s— and the introduction of fly-by-wire technology in the 1980s were other significant breakthroughs that aided in advancing safety.

Sensors, navigation equipment, and air traffic control technology, such as anti-collision systems, have all improved.

While technology has aided in improving the aviation industry’s safety record, considerable advancements in safety management systems and human factors knowledge have also played a role.

Another significant advancement in recent decades has been in crew or cockpit resource management and data monitoring, both of which are intended to reduce the danger of human mistakes.