The Government Accountability Office released a report last week outlining a significant increase in the number of mistakes by air traffic controllers over the last three years. In addition, the report shows an increase in the incidents of runway incursions at airports using control towers. Many aviation accidents occur on the runway, including the deadliest aviation accident in history in which 583 people were killed when two 747's collided on the ground. The Federal Aviation Administration has identified runway incursions as a significant issue and has had a program designed to reduce this problem since 2007.
Just moments after takeoff, a helicopter pilot realized there was a problem. The aircraft's engine stalled and the vehicle spun out of control, eventually crashing into a nearby river. The pilot escaped the craft, as well as three of the four passengers onboard. One passenger, a woman celebrating her 40th birthday was not so lucky. She remained trapped in the helicopter and was unable to escape after it hit the water.
Similar to a motor vehicle's cruise control, modern commercial airplanes have auto pilot features. The question is, however, whether drivers and pilots rely too heavily on these automated features.