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INTRODUCTION“Flying is not inherently dangerous, but to aneven greater extent than the sea, it is terribly un-forgiving….”– Captain A. G. Lumplugh, British Aviation Insurance GroupSince Silas Christofferson first carried passen-gers on his hydroplane between San Francisco andOakland harbors in 1913, engineers and psychol-ogists have endeavored to improve the safety ofpassenger and cargo flights. What began as an in-dustry fraught with adversity and at times tragedyhas emerged as arguably one of the safest modesof transportation today.Indeed, no one can question the tremendousstrides that have been made since those first pas-senger flights nearly a century ago. However, littleimprovement has been realized in the last decadeeven though commercial aviation accident rateshave reached unprecedented levels of safety overthe last half century. Some have even suggestedthat the current accident rate is as good as it gets –or is it?The challenge for the Federal Aviation Admin-istration (FAA) and other civil aviation safetyorganizations is to improve an already very safeindustry. The question is where to start when mostof the “low-hanging fruit” (e.g., improved powerplant and airframe technology, advanced avionics,Human Error and Commercial Aviation Accidents: An AnalysisUsing the Human Factors Analysis and Classification SystemScott Shappell,Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, Cristy Detwiler, KaliHolcomb,and Carla Hackworth,Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Albert Boquet,Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, DaytonaBeach, Florida, and Douglas A. Wiegmann,University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,Champaign, IllinoisObjective: The aim of this study was to extend previous examinations of aviationaccidents to include specific aircrew, environmental, supervisory, and organizationalfactors associated with two types of commercial aviation (air carrier and commuter/on-demand) accidents using the Human Factors Analysis and Classification System(HFACS). Background: HFACS is a theoretically based tool for investigating andanalyzing human error associated with accidents and incidents. Previous research hasshown that HFACS can be reliably used to identify human factors trends associatedwith military and general aviation accidents. Method: Using data obtained from boththe National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration,6 pilot-raters classified aircrew, supervisory, organizational, and environmental causalfactors associated with 1020 commercial aviation accidents that occurred over a 13-year period. Results: The majority of accident causal factors were attributed to aircrewand the environment, with decidedly fewer associated with supervisory and organi-zational causes. Comparisons were made between HFACS causal categories and tra-ditional situational variables such as visual conditions, injury severity, and regionaldifferences. Conclusion: These data will provide support for the continuation, mod-ification, and/or development of interventions aimed at commercial aviation safety.