Yes, the mechanics who maintain the plane, and the pilots who fly it, and the air traffic controllers who give the pilots directions are all human, and you are right, humans make mistakes. And yes its possible that one of the people responsible for the safety of your flight could make a mistake.
But you know what, IT DOESN’T MATTER.
The air transport system isn’t built on the assumption that everything and everyone has to perform perfectly, because that’s an impossible goal. We are all human (pilots and mechanics and flight attendants too) and we all screw up occasionally. The machines we make and the software we write has flaws.
That’s just reality.
But you know what?
It doesn’t matter.
The whole air transport system is built with “layers” of safety – and it is ASSUMED that each layer has flaws.
Think of it as layers of swiss cheese. Each slice of cheese has holes (it’s flaws) but if you put 10 slices of cheese together do you think the holes would line up so you could see through the whole block?
Same with the air transport system – there are layers upon layers upon layers of safety built in.
For an accident to happen, a whole series of bad thing shave to happen in exactly the right (or wrong!) sequence – like having the holes line up in 20 slices of swiss cheese!
So yes, maybe the pilot didn’t sleep well last night.
But there is a second pilot.
And they have instruments to warn them if anything is going wrong.
And the instruments have redundancies (meaning for every critical system there is a completely independent backup system).
And the air traffic controllers are monitoring the flight, and the airline company dispatchers are monitoring the flight.
On the ground, the parts that are put on the plane have a traceable lineage (meaning that we can be sure they came from an approved manufacturer). The manufacturer tests the parts before they leave the factory. The mechanics have quality control procedures, meaning others check and sign off on their work. They also run tests on the plane after maintenance. (In fact, depending on what plane you fly on the airline probably spent over $1 million on maintenance in the last year, just on that single airplane you are flying on.)
So bottom line – there are a lot of systems in place that you don’t see – what you see is just the top slice of cheese.
mmm, now I think I’m going to make myself a sandwich…