The aviation industry takes safety incredibly seriously. Accident investigations are usually thorough and the lessons learned are applied globally. This is why flying is statistically one of the safest modes of transportation.
Australian writer and air safety consultant Macarthur Job wrote four books about commercial airline accidents. These four books are easy to read, informative and should be essential reading for anyone interested in aviation.
Air Disaster Volume 1
First published in 1995, Air Disaster Volume 1 covers the early years of jet transport. Opening with the series of de Havilland Comet accidents, the book goes on to cover various major events which resulted in improvements to safety.
Eighteen accidents are covered, right through to the world’s worst air disaster at Tenerife in 1977. Written in an easy to follow style, art work illustrates what went wrong which makes understanding things even easier.
Air Disaster Volume 2
The following year, the next book in the series was released. It picks up where the last book finished and covers a range of different events, such as the DC-10 crashes in Chicago, Antarctica and Sioux City.
Incidents that did not result in fatalities such as the British Airways encounter with volcanic ash are also included. This is my favourite of the series as I remember many of these covered in the news when I was younger.
A Peek Inside
Some of the books contents are viewable on Amazon with their “Look inside” feature. Below is the first page about American Airlines flight 191 which crashed in Chicago in 1979.
You can see from the excerpt that the style of writing is easy to digest, while also being quite detailed. Each of the books is written this way so that industry professionals as well as the general public will be able to find it useful and interesting.
Air Disaster Volume 3
Arriving in 1999, the third volume covers 13 additional accidents from 1988 to 1998. The book features first proper account of the Aeroflot Airbus A310 crash where the pilot’s child was at the controls.
Covering diverse crashes such as the Air France A320 lost at an airshow and the Boeing 737 rudder issues, it is another interesting look at what happened and what was learned.
Air Disaster Volume 4 – The Propeller Era
What probably should have been the first book in the series is actually the last. Twenty different accidents covering the period from 1950 to 1971 are covered here.
Two particularly fascinating stories in this Air Disaster book are the Pan American Stratocruiser ditching in 1956 and another story where the same type of aircraft was saved the following year.
I bought these books as they were released and found them fascinating. Each chapter gives background information on the flight, the accident itself and then follows the investigation finding out what exactly happened.
Extremely important are the illustrations which help to show what is being written about. Appropriate photographs are also included to round out the story.
When it comes to aviation, I cut my teeth on these books. The information contained within gave me a firm understanding of the basics of aerodynamics, metal fatigue, crew resource management, and accident investigation techniques among other things.
Have you read these books? What did you think? If you have another book that you think I’d be interested in checking out, let me know. Thanks for reading and please leave any comments or questions below.
Featured image by behold_itsaplane via Instagram. Repaint by Henry William.