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Major Air Disasters

All Time List of Major Air Disasters

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WhenWhereCauseWhat happened?Deaths
6 May 1937LakehurstFire, explosionThe hydrogen tank of the Hindenburg Zeppelin ignited shortly before landing in New York. One of the first air disasters in history.36
17 Dec 1960MunichTechnical defectThe US military machine Convair crashed onto a tram in the center of Munich after an engine failure.53
14 Aug 1972near BerlinFireAn Inter-flight (DDR airline) Ilyushin broke apart in flight near Königs Wusterhausen.156
13 Oct 1972AndesMountain collision16 passengers (most of them Uruguayan rugby players) survived for 72 days by cannibalism.29
3 Dec 1972TenerifePilot errorA Spantax Airlines Convair 990 crashed during takeoff in thick fog on the runway.155
3 Mar 1974near ParisTechnical defectA Turkish Airlines DC 10 crashed into a forest after the tailgate opened in midair.346
27 Mar 1977TenerifeCollision, fogA Pan Am and KLM machine both packed with holidaymakers collided on the runway. This plane crash is the worst air disasters in history.583
25 May 1979ChicagoTechnical defectThe American Airlines DC 10 lost an engine and crashed after take off onto a camping site.273
28 Nov 1979AntarcticPilot errorThe 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 1980RiyadhFireThe Saudi Arabian Air Lockheed was able to land safely but then burned out completely.301
1 Sep 1983SiberiaShot downKorean Boeing flight 007 accidentally penetrated Soviet airspace and was shot down by a Soviet fighter jet.269
23 Jun 1985over AtlanticTerrorist attackMilitant Sikhs detonated a bomb by radio in the Air India machine which was flying from Montreal to London.329
12 Aug 1985TokyoTechnical defectA Japan Air Lines Boeing 747 lost its tailplane after takeoff from Tokyo.520
28 Jan 1986Kennedy Space CenterTechnical defectThe “Challenger” space shuttle exploded only 73 seconds after launch killing all astronauts on board.7
3 Jul 1988Persian GolfShot downThe US battleship “Vincennes” mistook a civilian Iran Air Airbus for a military machine and shot it down.290
28 Aug 1988RamsteinCollisionAt the Ramstein air show, two Italian stunt pilots collided and crashed onto the spectators.70
21 Dec 1988LockerbieTerrorist attackLibyan 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 1991ThailandTechnical defectThe Lauda Air jet, flight 004, crashed on its flight from Hong Kong to Vienna. The reason: a self-activated reverse thruster.223
26 Apr 1994NagoyaCrew errorThe wing of an Air China machine touched the runway when landing with only 7 passengers surviving.264
20 Dec 1995Cali (Columbia)Pilot errorThe American Airlines Boeing 757 crashed when landing in Colombia.160
7 Feb 1996over AtlanticTechnical defectA Turkish Birgenair Boeing full of Dominican Republic holidaymakers crashed into the sea.189
17 Jul 1996Long IslandExplosionThe tank of the TWA Boeing flight 800 exploded shortly after takeoff from New York City and crashed into the sea.230
7 Nov 1996near LagosFireThe Nigerian airline machine crashed in flames into a swamp.143
12 Nov 1996DelhiCollisionA 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 1997GuamPilot errorA Korean Air Boeing 747 crashed into the jungle in rain before landing on the Pacific island.228
26 Sep 1997MedanMiscomm-unicationGaruda Indonesia flight 152 crashed into a mountain near Medan during low visibility.234
16 Feb 1998TaipeiFogThe Taiwanese airline Airbus touched down before the runway and burned out.202
2 Sep 1998near Halifax, CanadaSmoke in cockpitOff 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 1999US East CoastDeliberate or tech. defect – disputedAn Egypt Air Boeing 767 crashed into the sea off the coast of Massachusetts.217
25 Jul 2000ParisExplosionOne 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 2001NYC & WashingtonKidnapping, terrorismTerrorists 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.3018
8 Oct 2001MilanFog, collisionA German Cessna crashed into an SAS jet as it was taking off on the runway in thick fog.112
25 May 2002Taiwan StraitFaulty repairsFlight 611 – the plane en route from Taiwan to Hong Kong disintegrated in mid air.225
1 Jul 2002ÜberlingenCollisionA Russian passenger machine and a DHL cargo plane collided in the air over Lake Constance.71
1 Feb 2003TexasDefective heat shieldThe “Columbia” space shuttle burned out during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.7
14 Aug 2005near AthensPressure dropThe cabin pressure dropped due to an incorrectly adjusted valve causing the pilots to become unconscious.121
20 Aug 2008MadridTechnical defectThe Spanair machine attempted an emergency landing after takeoff but rolled off the end of the runway and caught fire.153
1 Jun 2009over AtlanticSevere weather, pilot errorAn 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 2010near SmolenskFogShortly 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 2014unknownUnknownFlight 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 2014near Tores, East UkraineShot downMalaysia Airlines suffers again – Flight MH17 took off in Amsterdam and was – allegedly – hit by a missile in East Ukraine causing it to crash. All 298 passengers perished. The rocket is said to have been fired by pro-Russian rebels.298
28 Dec 2014Java SeaUnknownAn 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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