Worlds Deadliest Air Crashes

While we started out by enumerating world deadliest air crashes , it turns out that we discussed more than that , especially due to causes , terrain , technical faults and man-made crashes. Here is a snap shot of what we discussed and presented on this topic.

Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision


This collision took place on 12 November 1966. It is the deadliest aviation accident in India and the deadliest mid-air collision in the world. This occurred when a Saudi Flight 763 and Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907 collided because of miscommunication above Charkhi Dadri village in India. Captain Timothy J. Place, a pilot for the United States Air Force, was the sole eyewitness of the event.

The Saudi Arabian Airlines plane crew consisted of Captain Khalid Al-Shubaily, First Officer Nazir Khan, and Flight Engineer Ahmed Edrees. The crew of Kazakhstani plane consisted of Captain Alexander Cherepanov, First Officer Ermek Dzhangirov, Flight Engineer Alexander Chuprov, Navigator Zhahanbek Aripbaev, and Radio Operator Egor Repp.

Reason for Collision

KZA1907 was cleared to descend to 15,000 feet (4,600 m) when it was 137 km from the beacon of the destination airport, while Saudi flight 763, travelling on the same airway as KZA1907 but in the opposite direction, was cleared to climb to 14,000 feet. About eight minutes later, KZA1907 reported having reached its assigned altitude of 15,000 feet (4,600 m), but it was lower, at 14,500 feet (4,400 m), and still descending. At this time, an air traffic controller warned, “Identified traffic 12 o’clock, reciprocal Saudia Boeing 747, 19 km. Report in sight.”

First air – Flight 6560


Destination :  Yellowknife Airport to Resolute Bay Airport

Resolute Bay airport is the only airport in the region navigation for automated landing approaches. The average temperature can be about -15.7 degrees C ( 3.7 degrees F ).

Reason for Crash

  • Because of heavy fog, the crew relies on the autopilot, so that the crew doesn’t have to worry about visually lining up with the runway.
  • The autopilot though, parallelly aligns with the runway. They prepare to descend at 1000 ft above field, but during the final approach, the wind blowing from the southwest pushes the plane further off course.
  • The first officer tells the captain that they are off course.
  • Soon a low altitude warning. The crew tries to act, but it was too late.

Mid-Air Crash of Malaysia Airlines MH-17


MH17 was a scheduled passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down on 17 July 2014 while flying over eastern Ukraine. All 283 passengers and 15 crew were killed . The shoot-down occurred in the War zone area controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

After Cold War Ukraine got separated from USSR. Ukrainians want to be part of Europe, but Russia wants Ukraine to be align with them. Russians attacked Eastern-Ukraine and captured Crimea. There was a war zone in the Eastern-Ukraine. Flights were not allowed to fly over the war zone.

Reason for Crash

  • MH17 crashed because they were going over the area they were not allowed to fly but MH 17 chose fastest and cheapest route over war zone!!!!!
  • Russians who were stationed in the war zone fired a missile (Buk Missile) assuming it as fighter plane.
  • The Dutch-led joint investigation team (JIT) concluded in May 2018 that the missile system belonged to a Russian brigade.
  • Australia and the Netherlands announced both were holding Russia responsible for downing the aircraft. Russian officials and Russian-backed rebels rejected the accusations of involvement.

The Crash of the century or the Tenerife airport disaster


Pan –Am flight 1736 and KLM flight 4805

Tenerife : Located in the Atlantic Ocean off northwest Africa, Tenerife is the largest of Spain’s eight Canary Islands. Enjoying what is described as being year-round eternal spring-like weather, Tenerife is a popular tourist destination that attracts more than five million tourists each year.

Reason for Crash

The Pan American crew sees the lights of the KLM 747 emerge from the fog 2,000 feet away and closing in fast. On seeing the approaching plane, Grubbs shoves the thrust levers to full power and tries to take the plane off of the runway and onto some grass that runs alongside it. The pilots on PAN – American 747 before him, but he can do nothing other than try and get the plane airborne by pulling back on the elevators. As the KLM 747 starts to gain height, its undercarriage slams into the Pan Am plane’s midsection setting off a series of explosions.

  • Both planes got diverted to Tenerife
  • The KLM jumbo decided to refuel
  • The Pan Am Jumbo was too large to get by
  • Aircraft had to taxi down the runway
  • Fog played a part in the disaster


Badly damaged, the KLM jumbo lands back on the runway and skids for a thousand feet before bursting into flames before any of the 248 passengers and crew could escape. Somewhat remarkable was that 61 passengers, including the flight deck, managed to survive from the Pan Am jumbo. Five hundred and eighty-three passengers including the crew of the KLM jumbo were not so lucky, making what happened on Tenerife, the worst airline disaster in history.

Outcomes & Changes in Aviation Rules

As a consequence of the Tenerife disaster, sweeping changes were made to international airline regulations and aircraft.

  • Aviation authorities worldwide introduced requirements for standard phrases and a greater emphasis on English as a common working language.
  • For example – Air traffic instruction must not be acknowledged solely with a colloquial phrase such as “OK” or even “Roger” but with a readback of the instruction’s essential parts to show mutual understanding.
  • The word “takeoff” is now spoken only when the actual takeoff clearance is given. Up until that point, aircrew and controllers should use the word “departure” in its place.

The Twin Towers Crash


At 110 stories each, 1 WTC (North Tower) and 2 WTC (South Tower) provided nearly 10 million square feet of office space for about 35,000 people and 430 companies. They were the tallest buildings in New York City, and for a brief period upon their completion, they were the tallest buildings in the world.

Reason For Crash

The collapse of the World Trade Center occurred during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, after the Twin Towers were struck by two hijacked commercial airliners. One World Trade Center (WTC 1, or the North Tower) was hit at 8:46 a.m. Eastern time and collapsed at 10:28 a.m. Two World Trade Center (WTC 2, or the South Tower) was hit at 9:03 a.m. and collapsed at 9:59 a.m. The resulting debris severely damaged or destroyed more than a dozen other adjacent and nearby structures, ultimately leading to the collapse of 7 World Trade Center at 5:21 p.m. A total of 2,763 people were killed in the crashes, fires, and subsequent collapses, including 2,192 civilians, 343 firefighters, and 71 law enforcement officers as well as all the passengers and crew on the airplanes, which included 147 civilians and the 10 hijackers.


  • Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, George W. Bush’s job approval rating soared to 86%
  • The attacks also had immediate and overwhelming effects upon the United States population. People began rallying around the popularized phrase, “United We Stand,” in hopes of being resilient and keeping the American spirit alive in the face of a devastating attack.
  • In weeks following the attacks, there was a surge in incidents of harassment and hate crimes against South Asians, Middle Easterners, and anyone thought to be “Middle Eastern-looking”
  • The attacks were regarded by some as particularly disturbing to children, in part because of the frequency with which the images were replayed on television.
  • Thousands of tons of toxic debris resulting from the collapse of the Twin Towers contained more than 2,500 contaminants, including known carcinogens
  • After the terrorist attack, various repercussions took place that affected the U.S as a whole. All the money and claims that were being put out to help aid the victims of the attack, as well as different security and laws to protect the U.S, caused several layoffs and un-employments.
  • It was projected by one individual that the public art that was damaged or destroyed during the attacks was valued at $10 million. Art by Louise Nevelson, Alexander Calder, and James Rosati were all destroyed along with a memorial sculpture by Elyn Zimmerman in memorial for the victims of the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing.

Turkish Airlines Flight 981


Turkish Airlines Flight 981 was a scheduled flight from Istanbul Yeşilköy Airport to London Heathrow Airport, with an intermediate stop at Orly Airport in Paris. On 3 March 1974, the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 operating the flight crashed into the Ermenonville Forest, outside Paris, killing all 346 people on board. The crash was also known as the Ermenonville air disaster. Flight 981 was the deadliest plane crash in aviation history until 27 March 1977.

Reason For Crash

The crash occurred when an incorrectly secured cargo door at the rear of the plane burst open. To maximize the working space within the cargo hold, the cargo doors opened outwards, making them vulnerable to being forced open at high altitudes under normal in-flight pressure. The latching had been performed by a baggage handler who did not speak Turkish or English, the only languages provided on a warning notice about the cargo door’s design flaws and the methods of compensating for them. After the disaster, the latches were redesigned, and the locking system significantly upgraded. Thus, the crash had happened.

  • It is also the deadliest aviation accident that did not involve a Boeing 747.
  • 346 people died in the crash.
  • There were 0 survivors.

Outcomes & Changes in Aviation Rules

After the crash of Flight 981, the latching system was completely redesigned to prevent them from moving into the wrong position.

About Me

Over 20 years of experience developing software to support multi-million dollar revenue scale and leading global engineering teams. Hands-on leadership in building and mentoring software engineering teams. I love History as a subject and also run regularly long distances to keep myself functional.


%d bloggers like this: