This paper focuses on problems associated with aircraft sustainment-related issues and illustrates how cracks, that grow from small naturally occurring material and manufacturing discontinuities in operational aircraft, behave. It also explains how, in accordance with the US Damage Tolerant Design Handbook, the size of the initiating flaw is mandated, e.g. a 1.27-mm-deep semi-circular surface crack for a crack emanating from a cut out in a thick structure, a 3.175-mm-deep semi-circular surface crack in thick structure, etc. It is subsequently shown that, for cracks in (two) full-scale aircraft tests that arose from either small manufacturing defects or etch pits, the use of da/dN versus ΔK data obtained from ASTM E647 tests on long cracks to determine the number of cycles to failure from the mandated initial crack size can lead to the life being significantly under-estimated and therefore to an unnecessarily significant increase in the number of inspections, and, hence, a significant cost burden and an unnecessary reduction in aircraft availability. In contrast it is shown that, for the examples analysed, the use of the Hartman-Schijve crack growth equation representation of the small crack da/dN versus ΔK data results in computed crack depth versus flight loads histories that are in good agreement with measured data. It is also shown that, for the examples considered, crack growth from corrosion pits and the associated scatter can also be captured by the Hartman-Schijve crack growth equation.