It has been said that statistically speaking, commercial aviation is the safest way to travel. While this may be true, the fact remains that when an aircraft accident occurs, many times it leaves few if any witnesses alive to tell the story of what happened to cause the crash.
For government investigators and family members of anyone who perished in a fatal aviation accident, the potential lack of availability of witness testimony presents challenges in identifying what led to the accident. Often, what is most important in the investigation is careful examination of the crash site itself, as well as recovery of flight data recorders. Another possible source of data can be the records of those who built, operated and maintained the plane itself.