List of Top 10 Worst Plane Crashes of All Time

Air travel is the safest and fastest means of transport in the modern era. Through air transport, the world has been converted into a global village. As compared to the ancient times when people were taking ages to move from place to place, things have been made easy now. For example, Vasco da Gama’s voyage took close to two years. However, in the case of an airplane accident, the chances of surviving are quite minimal. In history, many people have lost their lives from airplane crashes. This is a list of top ten worst plane crashes of all time.

The top ten worst plane crashes of all time are:

  1. The 9/11 Hijack (2001)
  2. Grand Canyon Mid-Air Collision (1956)
  3. The New York Collision (1960)
  4. Charkhi Dadri Collision (1996)
  5. Tenerife Airport Disaster (1977)
  6. Korean Airline Flight 007 (1983)
  7. American Airlne 191 (1979)
  8. Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 (2019)
  9. Japan Airlines Flight 123 (1985)
  10. China Airlines Flight 140 (1994)

1. The 9/11 Hijack

9/11 plane hijacks
  • Date: September 11, 2001
  • Fatalities: Nearly 3,000
  • Injuries: Over 25,000

The 9/11 event has remained to be the worst plane crash incident in the history of aviation. The 9/11 occurred when four airplanes were hijacked by Muslm terrorists under the arm of Al-Qaeda. These airplanes were hijacked by 19 terrorists who boarded then unnoticed. Osama Bn Laden, the then leader of Al-Qaeda was the mastermind behind the hijack.

The hijacking event was well executed. The terroists boarded the flights on several occasions in the United States as a preparation for the hijack. On the morning of September 11, 2001, two Boeing 757s and two Boeing 767s were hijacked.

The first plane in the series, American Flight 11 crashed at 8:46 am in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The crash was deliberately engineered by Mohamed Atta, the lead hijacker. Following this at 9:03 am, United Airlines Flight 175 was crashed into the South Tower. As a result of the impact of the crashing planes, the two towers caught fire and collapsed minutes later. Many people trapped inside were killed.

American Airlines Flight 77 was headed towards the Pentagon and crashed into the Western facade at 9:37 am. All the passengers lost their lives. The last plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania killing all passengers.

This has remained to be the worst plane crash in history with close to 3,000 fatalities. No other incident has occurred in the aviation industry that led to the death of many people as this. The 9/11 event changed most operations in airports to include tight security checks.

2. Grand Canyon Mid-Air Collision

Grand Canyon mid-air collision
  • Date: June 30, 1956
  • Fatalities: 128
  • Injuries 0

The collision occurred in the Western parts of the United States. In this collision, a United Airlines Douglas DC-7 hit a Trans World Airlines Lockhead L-1049 Super Constellation. The collision was over the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. The two flights had a total of 128 people who died. The reason for the collision was pilot error as it was the responsibility of the pilots to maintain separation. The blame could not be on the air traffic control as this airspace was uncontrolled.

3. The New York Collision

The New York Collision: Source,
  • Date: December 16, 1960
  • Fatalties: 134 (Initially 133)
  • Injured: 0 (Initially 1)

In this collision, a United Airlines Douglas DC-8 collided mid-air with a TWA Lockhead L-1049 Sueper Constellation. The latter was descending into LaGuardia Airport while the DC-8 was bound for John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The crash lead to the destruction of many properties on the ground including the Pillar of Fire Church. According to the black examination, it was revealed that the DC-8 was far beyond its clearance. This was caused by ts high take-off speed.

4. Charkhi Dadri Collision

Charkhi Dadri collision: Source
  • Date: November 12, 1996
  • Fatalities: 349
  • Injuries: 0

In this crash, Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 763 collided with Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907 over the Charkhi Dadri village. All the 349 people onboard were killed in the crash. Throughout history, this has remained to be the deadliest aviation crash in India.

In the collision, the tail of the Kazakhstan plane clipped into the wing of the Saudia flight. The impact caused the Saudia plane to spiral fast killing the 312 people onboard. The Kazakhstan plane had 37 people onboard.

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5. Tenerife Airport Disaster

Tenerife airport disaster
  • Date: March 27, 1977
  • Fatalities: 583
  • Injuries: 61

This was another collision involving KLM Flight 4805 and Pan Am Flight 1736 on the runway at Tenerife North Airport. As a result of the terrorist act at Gran Canaria Airport, many planes were diverted to Los Rodeos. Among the diverted planes were the two that collided on the runways. Therefore, this has been linked to the congestion at the airport due to parked airplanes blocking the taxiway. The departing airplanes had to taxi on the runway leaving no space for the landing airplanes.

It is also believed that the KLM captain had thought he would be cleared for takeoff which was not true. This was, however, attributed to language barriers.

Moreover, there were thick fog in the airfield which stressed the visibility for pilots and the control tower. The collusion resulted to fire that killed all people on board the KLM 4805 and many others in the Pan Am 1736.

6. Korean Airline Flight 007

Korean airline flight 007
  • Date: September 1, 1983
  • Fatalties: 269
  • Injuries: 0

The crash is among the worst plane crashes of all time. The KAL007 was flying from New York City to Seoul when it was shot down by Soviet Su-15 interceptor. The Boeing 747 was on its usual flight from from Anchorage to Seoul. However, a navigational mistake happened that made the airplane to deviate from its initially planned route to fly through Soviet prohibited airspace. Unfortunately, this was during the U.S. aerial reconnaissance mission.

The airplane was considered by the Soviet Air Forces as a spy plane intruding the United States. As a result, they decided to destroy it with air-to-air missiles. This is a demonstration of how deadly human error can be.

7. American Airline 191

American airlines flight 191: source
  • Date: May 25, 1979
  • Fatalties: 273
  • Injuries: 0

This is another deadliest airplane crash in the history of the U.S after the 9/11 event. This was a routine airplane from O’Hare International AIrport in Chicago, Illnois to Los Angeles International Airport, California.

Few minutes after takeoff, the engine on the left side broke off and flipped over the top part of the wing. The impact damaged the wing of the airplane. Moreover, the hydraulic fluid lines were destroyed, hampering the stability of the plane.

The airplane lost control and began rolling from the air. It crashed into a near O’Hare.

8. Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302

Investigator at the scene of the crash
  • Date: March 10, 2019
  • Fatalities: 157
  • Injuries: 0

This was an international passenger flight from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft crashed near the town of Bishoftu six minutes after takeoff. All the people aboard were killed.

This remains the deadliest airplane crash to date. The cause of this crash, according to Ethiopian investigators was design flaws in the Boeing 737 Max plane. Therefore, the crashwas not linked to the performance of the airlines of its pilots. This result added to the investigation into the design of 737 Max involved in other two major crashes.

9. Japan Airlines Flight 123

Japan airlines flight 123 crash scene
  • Date: August 12, 1985
  • Fatalities: 520
  • Injuries: 4

The plane was plying from Haneda Airport to Osaka International Airport. The plane was being operated by a Boeing 747SR which experienced a sudden decompression 12 minutes after takeoff. The airplane crashed at Mount Takamagahara, Ueno, Gunma Prefecture.

This is among the worst plane crashes of all time due to the high fatalities. The Aircraft Investgation Commission of Japan announced that the compression issues was due to a faulty repair by Boeing technicians. This was after a tailstrike incident that had occurred as the plane was landing at Osaka Airport back n 1978.

10. China Airlines Flight 140

China airlines flight 140 wreckage
  • Date: April 26, 1994
  • Fatalities: 264
  • Injuries: 7

China Airlines Flight 140 was a scheduled plane from Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport to Nagoya Airport. The malfunctioning of the takeoff/go around mechanism was the main cause of the airplane crash. To rectify the situation, the pilot tried to pitch the plane downwards. The shocking bit was that, although the autopilot was off, it kept pitching the airplane up. As a result, the aircraft stalled and crashed. Out of the 271 people on board, 264 died.

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