When people board a commercial flight, they assume that they plane is mechanically sound and ready for flight. Mechanical plane failure, however, is one of the main factors leading to deadly plane accidents in the United States and throughout the world alongside weather and human error. Failure to operate or improper design of critical airplane parts, such as the fuel tanks, navigation system, landing gear, spoilers, rudder, stabilizers, wing components and engine controls, can be catastrophic. Boeing released a study reporting that approximately 20 percent of all commercial air accidents are attributed to mechanical failure.
Airline companies are responsible for ensuring proper maintenance on airplanes before they are released to carry passengers on flights. While some minor repairs may be performed locally, some companies opt to take other major maintenance work out of the county to decrease expenses. Although the Federal Aviation Administration is required to visit these overseas maintenance facilities and perform regular inspections, a lack of funds and manpower may limit the number of facilities visited by the administration.
In one case, an airplane that received a major overhaul in a maintenance facility in Xiamen, China, had been flying passengers for five days before someone noticed that one of the airplane's wings was missing 30 screws. Another incident involved a plane serviced in El Salvador where a main component of the cabin door was installed backward, causing it to fail during flight. Another airplane was discovered to have the wires crossed in a few of the cockpit gauges. Proper airplane maintenance is vital to ensure that airplanes will function correctly and that passengers will be safe when traveling on those planes.