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Major Air Disasters

All Time List of Major Air Disasters Timeline

  • ADDucation’s list of air disasters was compiled by A C, last updated Mar 22, 2022 @ 4:11 pm.

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When Where Cause What happened? Deaths
6 May 1937 Lakehurst Fire, explosion The hydrogen tank of the Hindenburg Zeppelin ignited shortly before landing in New York. One of the first air disasters in history. 36
17 Dec 1960 Munich Technical defect The US military machine Convair crashed onto a tram in the center of Munich after an engine failure. 53
14 Aug 1972 near Berlin Fire An Inter-flight (DDR airline) Ilyushin broke apart in flight near Königs Wusterhausen. 156
13 Oct 1972 Andes Mountain collision 16 passengers (most of them Uruguayan rugby players) survived for 72 days by cannibalism. 29
3 Dec 1972 Tenerife Pilot error A Spantax Airlines Convair 990 crashed during takeoff in thick fog on the runway. 155
3 Mar 1974 near Paris Technical defect A Turkish Airlines DC 10 crashed into a forest after the tailgate opened in midair. 346
27 Mar 1977 Tenerife Collision, fog A Pan Am and KLM machine both packed with holidaymakers collided on the runway. This plane crash was one of the worst air disasters in history. 583
25 May 1979 Chicago Technical defect The American Airlines DC 10 lost an engine and crashed after take off onto a camping site. 273
28 Nov 1979 Antarctic Pilot error The pilot of an Air New Zealand DC 10 incorrectly estimated the altitude over the icy wastes of the Antarctic and crashed into a mountain. 257
19 Aug 1980 Riyadh Fire The Saudi Arabian Air Lockheed was able to land safely but then burned out completely. 301
1 Sep 1983 Siberia Shot down Korean Boeing flight 007 accidentally penetrated Soviet airspace and was shot down by a Soviet fighter jet. 269
23 Jun 1985 over Atlantic Terrorist attack Militant Sikhs detonated a bomb by radio in the Air India machine which was flying from Montreal to London. 329
12 Aug 1985 Tokyo Technical defect A Japan Air Lines Boeing 747 lost its tailplane after takeoff from Tokyo. 520
28 Jan 1986 Kennedy Space Center Technical defect The “Challenger” space shuttle exploded only 73 seconds after launch killing all astronauts on board. 7
3 Jul 1988 Persian Golf Shot down The US battleship “Vincennes” mistook a civilian Iran Air Airbus for a military machine and shot it down. 290
28 Aug 1988 Ramstein Collision At the Ramstein air show, two Italian stunt pilots collided and crashed onto the spectators. 70
21 Dec 1988 Lockerbie Terrorist attack Libyan terrorists detonated a bomb that they had hidden in the cargo hold of a Pan Am jet. All passengers as well as 13 residents of the Scottish town of Lockerbie died. 259
26 May 1991 Thailand Technical defect The Lauda Air jet, flight 004, crashed on its flight from Hong Kong to Vienna. The reason: a self-activated reverse thruster. 223
26 Apr 1994 Nagoya Crew error The wing of an Air China machine touched the runway when landing with only 7 passengers surviving. 264
20 Dec 1995 Cali (Columbia) Pilot error The American Airlines Boeing 757 crashed when landing in Colombia. 160
7 Feb 1996 over Atlantic Technical defect A Turkish Birgenair Boeing full of Dominican Republic holidaymakers crashed into the sea. 189
17 Jul 1996 Long Island Explosion The tank of the TWA Boeing flight 800 exploded shortly after takeoff from New York City and crashed into the sea. 230
7 Nov 1996 near Lagos Fire The Nigerian airline machine crashed in flames into a swamp. 143
12 Nov 1996 Delhi Collision A Kazakhstan Air and Saudia Airlines machine collided in midair. Poor air traffic control technology and the lack of English language skills on behalf of the pilots caused the crash. Only 2 passengers survived. 349
5 Aug 1997 Guam Pilot error A Korean Air Boeing 747 crashed into the jungle in rain before landing on the Pacific island. 228
26 Sep 1997 Medan Miscomm-unication Garuda Indonesia flight 152 crashed into a mountain near Medan during low visibility. 234
16 Feb 1998 Taipei Fog The Taiwanese airline Airbus touched down before the runway and burned out. 202
2 Sep 1998 near Halifax, Canada Smoke in cockpit Off the Canadian East Coast, the Swiss-Air MD-11 crashed into the sea on a flight from New York to Geneva. The Pilot attempted an emergency landing in Halifax in vain; no one survived the crash. 229
31 Oct 1999 US East Coast Deliberate or tech. defect – disputed An Egypt Air Boeing 767 crashed into the sea off the coast of Massachusetts. 217
25 Jul 2000 Paris Explosion One of the Concorde tires is slashed during takeoff. The tire shreds rip open a tank causing the Air France supersonic airliner to catch fire and crash onto a hotel. 113
11 Sep 2001 NYC & Washington Kidnapping, terrorism Terrorists hijacked four US planes. Two flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, one crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, and another (after the passengers attempted to storm the cockpit) onto an open field near Shanksville, about 100 km east of Pittsburgh. The worst of all air diasasters in history. 3018
8 Oct 2001 Milan Fog, collision A German Cessna crashed into an SAS jet as it was taking off on the runway in thick fog. 112
25 May 2002 Taiwan Strait Faulty repairs Flight 611 – the plane en route from Taiwan to Hong Kong disintegrated in mid air. 225
1 Jul 2002 Überlingen Collision A Russian passenger machine and a DHL cargo plane collided in the air over Lake Constance. 71
1 Feb 2003 Texas Defective heat shield The “Columbia” space shuttle burned out during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. 7
14 Aug 2005 near Athens Pressure drop The cabin pressure dropped due to an incorrectly adjusted valve causing the pilots to become unconscious. 121
20 Aug 2008 Madrid Technical defect The Spanair machine attempted an emergency landing after takeoff but rolled off the end of the runway and caught fire. 153
1 Jun 2009 over Atlantic Severe weather, pilot error An Air France Airbus (Flight 447) crashed en route from Rio to Paris into the Atlantic after the speed indicator iced up, in turn deactivating the autopilot. 228
10 Apr 2010 near Smolensk Fog Shortly before landing in the Russian city of Smolensk, the Polish Tupolev crashed into a wooded area. Among others, the Polish President Lech Kaczynski perished. 96
8 Mar 2014 unknown Unknown Flight MH370 of Malaysia Airlines mysteriously disappeared from the radar in the middle of the night. It was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Some believe the pilot wanted to commit suicide and flew the aircraft into the sea, where it still lies undetected on the ocean floor. 239
17 Jul 2014 near Tores, East Ukraine Shot down Malaysia Airlines suffers again – Flight MH17 took off in Amsterdam, Netherlands and was – allegedly – hit by a missile in Eastern Ukraine causing it to crash. All 298 passengers perished. The rocket is said to have been fired by pro-Russian rebels. 298
28 Dec 2014 Java Sea Unknown An AirAsia Airbus A320 crashed into the sea on the way to Singapore from Surabaya in Java out of so far unknown causes. 162

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