Deadliest Disasters in Aviation History

Deadliest Disasters in Aviation History

Wright brothers’ pioneering flight took place on 17 December 1903. Fast forward to 5 years, Thomas Selfridge became the first air fatality in 1908. Likewise, Eugène Lefebvre became the first pilot killed in an air crash. The first fatal mid-air collision occurred on 19 June 1912 killing the pilot of each aircraft. Despite being safe, there have been many deaths involving aircraft. Without further ado, let’s find out the ten deadliest disasters in aviation history till now.

10. Iran Ilyushin Il-76 crash, 2003

Deadliest Disasters in Aviation History

On 19 Feb 2003, an Ilyushin Il-76 carrying members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard crashed in mountainous terrain near Kerman in Iran. The flight was carrying 275 people on board. None of the occupants of the plane survived. Investigators believe it was a controlled flight into terrain, citing the deteriorating weather conditions and strong winds.

Fatalities: 275 (All)

09. Iran Air Flight 655, 1988

Deadliest Disasters in Aviation History

Iran Air Flight 655, a commercial flight from Tehran to Dubai via Bandar Abbas was shot down in 1988 by US Navy.  The flight was using an Airbus A300 carrying 290 passengers. The aircraft was shot while flying over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf. The horrible disaster in aviation occurred during the final stages of the 8 years long Iran–Iraq War. The reason for the shootdown is disputed between the two countries.

Fatalities: 290(All)

08. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, 2014

Deadliest Disasters in Aviation History

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), a scheduled passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down on 17 July 2014. The aircraft was flying over eastern Ukraine in the midst of the Battle of Shakhtarsk. The missile managed to turn the aircraft, a Boeing 777-200ER, into a flying fireball. This unfortunate disaster in aviation is the deadliest airliner shootdown incident as well. Likewise, it was Malaysia Airlines’ second aircraft loss in 2014, after the disappearance of Flight 370 in March.

Fatalities: 298(All)

07. Saudia Flight 163, 1980

Deadliest Disasters in Aviation History

Saudia Flight 163, a scheduled commercial flight caught fire after takeoff from Riyadh International Airport, on 19 August 1980.  The aircraft Lockheed L-1011-200 TriStar managed to perform a successful emergency landing. Unfortunately, all 301 aboard died from smoke inhalation. The accident is the deadliest involving a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar till date. At the time, it was the second deadliest aircraft accident in the history of aviation involving a single aeroplane after Turkish Airlines 981.

Fatalities: 298(All)

06. Air India Flight 182, 1985

Deadliest Disasters in Aviation History
Recovered aircraft debris from the ocean

Air India Flight 182, was a flight operating on the Montreal–London–Delhi route. On 23 June 1985, the flight used Boeing 747-237B. An explosive planted in the aircraft exploded on an altitude of 31,000 feet and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. Noone survived the crash. The incident happened over Irish airspace. A Sikh militant group; Babbar Khalsa took the blame for the explosion. Similarly, another explosion planted on Air India flight 301 detonated in Narita Airport. The bombing of Air India Flight 182 became the deadliest aviation accident in Air India. Likewise, the deadliest act of aviation terrorism until the 9/11 attacks.

Fatalities: 329(All)

Also Read: The most polluted cities of the world>>

05. Turkish Airlines Flight 981, 1974

Turkish Airlines Flight 981, a scheduled flight using McDonnell Douglas DC-10 crashed into the Ermenonville Forest on 3 March 1974. The Ermenonville air disaster killed 346 aboard. The accident happened because an improperly latched cargo door broke off. It created an explosive decompression that severed critical cables necessary to control the aircraft. Flight 981 became the first fatal and deadliest crash involving the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 as well.

Fatalities: 346(All)

04. Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision, 1996

Debris from the collision

This aviation tragedy involved two aircraft; operated by Saudi Arabian airlines and Kazakhstan airlines.  A Boeing 747 en route to Saudi Arabia collided with an Ilyushin Il-76 en route over the village of Charkhi Dadri. Rescuers did manage to find a couple of survivors. However, they eventually succumbed to death. The incident resulted in total fatalities of 349 people. The disaster became the world’s deadliest mid-air collision.

Fatalities: 349(All)

03. Japan Airlines Flight 123, 1985

Japan Airlines Flight 123 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Tokyo to Osaka. A Boeing 747SR flight crashed on Mount Takamagahara. The aircraft lost control because of a mechanical failure. The aircraft came with increased economy class seating. Casualties of the crash included all 15 crew members and 505 out of 509 passengers. Some passengers did survive the initial crash but eventually succumbed to injuries while awaiting rescue. The crash became the deadliest single-aircraft accident in history.

Fatalities: 520 (out of 524 onboard)

Survivor: 4

02. Tenerife Airport Disaster, 1977

Tenerife airport disaster is one of the worst aviation disasters in history. On March 27, 1977, two Boeing 747 passenger jets, operating KLM Flight 4805 and Pan Am Flight 1736, collided on the runway. Resulting in 583 fatalities, this accident became Crash of the Century. The disaster is many things going wrong. Firstly, the aircraft was diverted to Tenerife. Thick fog drifting across the airfield decreased the visibility for pilots and the control tower. When KLM initiated the takeoff, the Pan Am was heading towards taxiway from the runway. The aircraft collided on the runway. The collision and resulting fire killed everyone onboard KLM 4805 and most of the occupants of Pan Am 1736. Only 61 occupants of front section of PanAm survived.

KLM 4805:

Fatalities: 248 (All)

Pan Am 1736:

Fatalities: 335(out of 396)

Survivors: 61

01. 9/11 terrorist attacks, 2001

On 11 September 2001, 19 militants of al Qaeda hijacked four airplanes to carry out a suicide mission. The first attacks involved two aircraft. An American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 crashed onto the World Trade Center in NYC. Secondly, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed onto Pentagon Headquarters, Washington, D.C. However, the fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed in Pennsylvania after an unsuccessful Hijacking. Approximately, 3000 died directly and indirectly in the 9/11 attacks. This can be considered to be the deadliest disaster in aviation history

World Trade Center

2,500++ on ground

92 on American Airlines Flight 11 (All)

65 on United Airlines Flight 175 (All)


125 On ground

64 on American Airlines Flight 77 (All)

44 on United Airlines Flight 93 (All)

Also read: Top 10 extremely dangerous airports in the world>>

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