I must confess I’ve only flown 4 times in my entire lifespan. I also have to confess that the thought of dying in an air disaster has crossed my mind on each of those 4 occasions. There have been various air disasters over the years, but have you ever wondered which ones were the worst throughout history? This thought crossed my mind and I turned to the Internet to do a bit of research on this. Today I will be covering 5 of the World’s Worst Air Disasters in history. These disasters are measured by the amount of people that died in them. This list does not take the supposed terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001 into account. More than 2800 people died in the attacks on the World Trade Center alone.
Air India Flight 182: On the 23rd of June, 1985 this flight was en route from Montreal, Canada to London. The aircraft was supposed to travel to Bombia via Delhi after stopping over in London, but never made it to London. The Air India Boeing 747 was blown up by Sikh extremists over the Irish Sea in Irish Airspace. Among the dead were 280 Canadian Nationals and 22 Indian nationals. Investigations and prosecutions took about 20 yrs to be completed. The trial was the most expensive in Canadian history, costing over 130 million Canadian Dollars. Inderjit Singh Reyat pleaded guilty in 2003 to manslaughter for constructing the bomb used on the flight. He was the only person to be prosecuted for this indicident and received a 5-year sentence. He was denied parole in 2007. Since the plane exploded at 31,000 feet only 131 bodies were found. 198 bodies were lost at sea.
Turkish Airlines Flight 981: On the 3rd of March, 1974 this plane arrived in Paris, France from Istanbul, Turkey. Turkish Airline Flight 981′s final destination was Heathrow Airport in London. The aircraft was a McDonnell Douglas DC-10. After taking off in Paris the plane crashed in a forest near the town of Senlis, France. All 346 people on board were killed. The plane disintegrated. Only 40 bodies were visually identifiable. 9 passengers were never identified. This disaster is commonly referred to as the Ermenonville air disaster. Due to a strike by British European Airways, passengers bound for London were booked on this Turkish Airlines flight. Among the dead were 17 England Rugby players, 4 British fashion models and 48 Japanese bank management trainees. After investigation it was found that the aircraft’s rear cargo-hold hatch had failed in midflight which caused the cargo hold area of the aircraft to decompress. The air pressure change caused the floor of the aircraft to fail, blowing a section of the passenger cabin out. Control cables (which were in the floor of the aircraft) were severed and the cabin crew lost control of the aircraft.
Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision: On the 12th of November, 1996 Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 763 (a Boeing 747) collided mid-air with Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907 (a Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane). The Boeing 747 was on its way to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia from New Delhi. The Ilyushin Il-76 was en route from Kazakhstan to New Delhi. All 349 people on both planes were killed. The collision is the deadliest mid-air collision in history. The 2 aircraft collided overthe village of Charkhi Dadri, Haryana in India. After this crash the Civil Aviation Authorities in India made it mandatory for all aircraft flying in and out of the country to be equipped with an ACAS (Airborne Collision Avoidance System) to prevent similar collisions in the future. Neither of the airplanes involved in the crash were fitted with this system. This wasn’t the first time in history that 2 planes collided mid-air. The first mid-air aircraft collision in history occurred in 1922.
Japan Airlines Flight 123: This flight was a Japanese domestic flight from Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) to Osaka International Airport (Itami). On the 12th of August, 1985 this Boeing 747 suffered mechanical failures 12 minutes into the flight and crashed 32 minutes later crashed into 2 ridges of Mount Takamagahara (100km from Tokyo). 520 out of the 524 passengers onboard died. The Japan Airlines Flight 123 crash is the worst single aircraft disaster in history. All 4 surviving passengers were female. Kyu Sakamoto, a famous Japanese singer was killed in the crash. A Japan Airlines maintenance supervisor later committed suicide, while the president of the airline resigned, accepting full responsibility for the crash and visiting victims’ families to offer a personal apology.
Tenerife Airport Disaster: On the 27th of March 1977 two Boeing 747 aircraft collided on the runway at Los Rodeos Airport (now known as Tenerife Airport) on the Spanish controlled island of Tenerife (part of the Canary Islands). The collision resulted in 583 deaths. This accident is regarded as the deadliest aviation tragedy in history. Pan Am Flight 1736 and KLM Flight 4805 was involved in the collision. All 248 people on the fully fueled KLM Boeing 747 were killed. 335 people on the Pan Am flight were killed. The Pan Am flight had 61 survivors. The KLM flight took off without permission in heavy fog on the airport’s only runway and crashed into the top of the Pan Am aircraft which was back taxiing in the opposite direction. The sudden fog greatly limited visibility. The control tower and the crews of both planes were unable to see each other. Simultaneous radio transmissions also attributed to the accident, neither message could be heard. KLM ultimately accepted responsibility for the accident and paid out compensation to victims families. A memorial was set up in memory of this tragedy in Westgaarde Cemetery, Amsterdam in the Netherlands. A mortuary was also set up in memory of this in Westminster, California in the United States.