Top 10 Worst Aviation Accidents in History

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Earlier this year, a devastating aviation accident happened to China Eastern Airlines Flight 5735. The plane fell steeply and crashed onto the ground at high speed. The incident put aircraft manufacturers like Boeing on the spot once again after the malfunction on Boeing 737 Max that led to two plane crashes. After the crash of China Eastern Airline Flight 5735, plane accidents have become the talk of the community. Today, we would like to take you back through time and look at the 10 worst aviation accidents in history. 

On this list, some are accidents from malfunction of the aircraft, some are collision accidents, and some are the results of attacks from terrorists. 

10 Worst Aviation Accidents in World History

1. 9/11 The September 11 Attacks (2001)

When the topic of aviation accidents emerges, one incident that will always come to people’s mind is the heartbreaking event that happened on 11th September of 2001. On that day, 2,977 lives were lost because of planned attack by the leading of Osama bin Laden, leader of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda at that time. 

The terrorists hijacked four commercial flights with the aim to create mass destruction across the US. Two aircrafts struck and destroyed Twin Towers in New York, one aircraft crashed into the Pentagon outside Washington, DC, and on the last plane, the passengers were able to overpowered the terrorists then the plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.

10 worst aviation accidents

2. Tenerife Airport Disaster (1977)

On 27th March, 1977, a series of unfortunate events happened, leading to the loss of 583. On that day, a bomb were planted by the separatist Canary Islands Independence Movement in the terminal of Gran Canaria Airport in Spain. The bomb exploded and injured eight people and all flights were diverted to Tenerife Airport. 

At Tenerife Airport, two Boeing 747 aircraft from KLM and Pan Am collided with each other on the runway. The collision was caused by many situations including dense fog, absence of radar on the ground and miscommunication. After the collision, the KML aircraft burst into flames, killing everyone on board and only 61 passengers survived on the Pan Am aircraft.

3. Japan Airlines Flight 123 (1985)

Japan Airlines Flight 123 remains the saddest air accident involving a single aircraft to this day. The aircraft faced mechanical failure caused by the explosive decompression. The plane lost the vertical stabilizer and parts of the tail. After the explosion, the crews were able to keep the plane airborne for half an hour before crashing into Mount Takamagahara. Killing almost everyone on board, only four women survived the crash. 

Unlike the other aviation accidents that usually happened and took people’s lives abruptly, the passengers on this plane had to be in a state of fright for half an hour, knowing that the end of their lives was just minutes away. 

4. Charkhi Dadri Mid-Air Collision (1996)

Charkhi Dadri, a small village in West New Delhi, became infamous after Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 763 and Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907 crashed into each other mid-air. The collision happened when flight 763 took off while the 1907 was ready to land. The crash was the result of poor communication due to language barrier and the absence of secondary surveillance radar at the. All 349 passengers on both flights did not survive the accident.

5. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (2014)

The Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370), scheduled from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing lost contact with the traffic control and disappeared from the radar on 8th March, 2014. The disappearance of the MH370 happened without any warning or indication of any problem. To this day, the investigation team could not locate the aircraft, but the experts reveal that the plane changed the route and possibly continued flying until the fuel ran out. The 239 people on board are presumed to not survive the incident. The cause of the disappearance, however, remains a mystery. 

Read about the MH370 in our blog.

6. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Crash (2014)

Another worst aviation accident that happened to Malaysia Airlines is the MH17. This MH17 flight was shot down over the Ukraine-Russia border on 17th July, 2014, the same year as the MH370 disappearance. The MH17 was most likely shot down by a Russian as the result of the conflict at that time. The missile exploded just above the cockpit, making the plane fall to the ground in seconds. All 298 people onboard could not survive the explosion and the fall. 

Read about the HM17 in our blog.

10 worst aviation accidents

7. Turkish Airlines Flight 981 (1974)

On 3rd March of 1974, the Turkish Airline Flight 981 crashed due to a design fault of the aircraft and the failure to follow instructions of the baggage handler, killing 346 people onboard including the crews. The baggage handler failed to properly seal the cargo door which caused the plane to depressurize mid air and sucked out a few people on board, and caused mass damage to the plane. The engine was destroyed and part of the floor on the passenger zone collapsed.  

8. American Airlines Flight 191 (1979)

The crash of American Airlines Flight 191 is one of the worst aviation accidents within the US. It brought disrepute to the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Just a moment after takeoff, one of the engines separated from the aircraft, causing the plane to go into a roll, turn over, and crash into a nearby field. The investigation stated that the disaster is the result of faulty maintenance procedures. This incident caused the death of 273 people on the aircraft and 2 staff on the ground.

9. 2003 Iran Ilyushin Il-76 Crash

Iranian military aircraft crashed into the Sirch mountain due to dense fog disrupting the pilot’s vision. Because of the foggy condition, the pilots were not aware that the plane was going directly to the mountain. The crash caused the life of 275 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

10. China Airlines Flight 140 (1994)

The China Airlines Flight 140 is scheduled between Taipei, Taiwan and Nagoya, Japan. On 26th April 1994, the first officer on board accidentally activated the O/GA or Takeoff/Go-around button causing the pilots to lose control of the plane. The aircraft then pitched sharply and the airspeed was decreased, which then made the plane stall. The crash killed 264 people onboard and 7 people survived the crash.

We mourn the loss of all the victims and hope for the best for the families and friends of the victims who are still waiting for the answer from the investigation and justice. Hopefully, the aviation community and manufacturer will be more careful and put safety as their top priority to avoid these tragic incidents in the future.

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