There is no shortage of human achievements to that are both inspiring and have shaped the world we live in today. We created electronic devices that have saved lives and made our lives easier. We domesticated fire so that we could cook food, stay warm and see in the dark. Humans created writing as a way to express thoughts and ideas as well as to record history.
Mankind created photography to capture images in a way that words simply couldn’t. We developed theories as to origins of evolution and we have developed vaccines to combat the seemingly hidden forces that would see us sick. Man created language to communicate and developed and mastered agriculture and animal domestication so that societies could form and humans could shift from hunter-gatherers. However, of all the things that mankind has strived towards and created, one out greatest accomplishments was when we learned how to fly.
Mankind has always had a fascination with flight and for hundreds of years has tried to accomplish what then only birds and insects could do. But through innovation, dedication and a lot of trial and error, man seemed to accomplish the impossible and did that with the advent of the airplane.
The airplane is responsible for making a big world smaller and more accessible. It single-handedly sped up travel time, aiding in international business and creating a more connected and globalized world. The airplane has changed the lives of people by allow goods to be transported internationally at a higher speed, allowed politics to truly become global and gave people the opportunity to meet one another, regardless of where on the planet they found themselves.
The invention of the airplane created an entirely new industry, one that has created more than 58 millions jobs across the globe with implications ranging from transport to military and even space exploration. However, like any boundary pushing invention (no pun intended), there are risks, and when specifically referring to airplanes and flight, that risk is often around 40,000 feet in the air, and it doesn’t take much imagination to determine what can go wrong with that.
Many people are scared of flying, and that is likely in part to the fact that planes travel at such vertical extremes that it could potentially make the bravest soul feel a little hesitant, although, from a statistical point of view, flying is one of the safest modes of transport. The odds of a plane crashing are 1 in every 1.2 million flights and the odds of a person dying as a result of a plane crash are 1 in 11 million.
When you weigh those figures against the automobile, which boasts a likelihood of fatality at one in 5,000, it tends to put people’s minds at ease. Especially when you consider that even if you were on that 1 in 1.2 million flights, you still have a 95.7 percent chance of survival. And while the odds are good (great, some might argue), the fact remains that accidents happen, and although unlikely, when an accident involves an airplane, it is usually devastating.
While not intended to scare anyone from flying, rather to educate, we have traversed that annals of history and compiled a list of the 15 deadliest plane crashes since 1982, again, not to frighten a would-be traveller, but rather as a humbling reminder that life is, in spite of all our advancements, precious.
1. Korean Flight 801
Normally, Korean Air Flight 801 was flown by an Airbus A300, however, because Korean Air scheduled flights to transport athletes to the South Pacific Games in American Samoa, the airline choose to fly the route with a 12-year-old Boeing 747-300 delivered to Korean Air on December 12, 1984.
Although the plane was different, everything was going according to plan on August 6, 1997, as Korean Air Flight 801 flew out of Seoul-Kimpo International Airport (now known as Gimpo Airport) to its destination of Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport, in the United States territory of Guam. Upon its approach to the airport, the plane crash into Nimitz Hill in Asan.
Investigations revealed that the cause of the crash was the result of insufficient pilot training/pilot error, and of the 237 passengers and 17 crew, there were only 25 survivors – they were only 3 miles from the runway.
2. Air France Flight 447
While you will notice reading this article a surprising amount of different causes for plane crashes, perhaps none is as atypical to what most of us envision than what happened to Air France Flight 447.
The date was June 1, 2009, when Air France Flight 447, a scheduled passenger flight departing from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was to brave the Atlantic on its way to Paris, France. Tragically, the Airbus went into an aerodynamic stall at high altitude in which it would not recover from. The plane crashed into the Atlantic ocean at 2:14 in the morning, killing all 216 passengers and 12 crew members.
3. Pan Am 103
On December 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103, which was a regularly scheduled flight, was making its transatlantic journey from Frankfurt, Germany to Detroit. After a stop in London, the plane began its trip over the Atlantic when a terrorist bomb was detonated on the plane over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The terrorists on board were tied to Libya, and two nationals were arrested three years after the crash. Of the 243 passengers, 16 crew and an additional 11 on the ground, there would be a total of 270 fatalities.
4. China Airlines Flight 611
The date was May 25, 2002, when China Airlines Flight 611, a regularly scheduled passenger flight took off from the former Chiang Kai-shek International Airport (now known as Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport) in Taiwan to Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong. In tragedy, however, the flight would never arrive at its destination.
The flight was scheduled to be a short one, just 80 minutes from takeoff to destination, however, the Boeing 747-209B making the flight disintegrated in mid-air due to faulty repairs and crashed into the Taiwan Strait 23 nautical miles (43 km) northeast of the Penghu Islands just 20 minutes after takeoff. It is believed that the in-flight break-up was the result of faulty repairs made on the aircraft 22 years earlier. As a result, all 206 passengers and 19 crew perished that day.
5. American Airlines 587
The date was November 12, 2001, and the flight was American Airlines Flight 587, a regularly scheduled passenger flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to Santo Domingo’s Las Américas International Airport in the Dominican Republic. Like most other flights on this list, Flight 587 would not reach its destination.
Shortly after take off, the Airbus A300-600 would crash into the Belle Harbor neighborhood of Queens, New York. The cause of the crash would be attributed to “Tail structure failure due to co-pilot error while encountering wake turbulence, incorrect pilot training.” Of the 260 souls on board, there would be no survivors; and sadly, another 5 on the ground would lose their lives that day.
6. Charkhi Dadri
The most deadly crash on this list is also unlike any other crash on this list, and not only by a number of casualties. The date was November 12, 1996, when an incident occur midair between a Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747-100B en route from Delhi to Dhahran, Saudi
Arabia, and a Kazakhstan Airlines Ilyushin Il-76 en route from Chimkent, Kazakhstan, to Delhi – and the incident was a midair collision.
While there certainly were two planes involved in the crash, the cause of the collision was attributed to pilot error for the pilot of the Kazakhstan Airlines aircraft. The crash took place over the village of Charkhi Dadri, just west of New Delhi, Indian. On the Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747-100B, there were 289 passengers and 23 crew, while on the Kazakhstan Airlines aircraft there was 27 passengers and 10 crew. Between the two planes, there would be a total of 349 fatalities with no survivors, making this the deadliest plane crash since 1982 and the third-mealiest aircraft accident in aviation history.
7. Swissair Flight 111
Swissair Flight 111 was codeshared with Delta Air Lines and scheduled as an international passenger flight from New York City to Geneva Switzerland on September 2, 1998. It would never make its destination.
While in mid-flight, a fire broke out on the plane. Following guidelines, the crew shut the power off in the cabin, however, this caused the recirculating fans to turn off as well, which resulted in a vacuum, inducing the fire to spread quicker. Eventually, it would make its way to the cockpit where it would short-circuit electrical, mainly the autopilot. Eventually, further instrument failure would cause spatial disorientation for the pilots and plane, causing a loss of control and eventual crash into the Atlantic Ocean, near St. Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia Canada. Of the 215 passengers and 14 crew, all 229 souls perished that day.
8. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370Usually,
when there is a plan crash, there is wreckage and a crash site. However in the case of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, it simply just disappeared.
The date was March 8, 2014, when a scheduled international passenger flight flying out of Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, to Beijing Capital International Airport in China. Everything was going normal with the plane making radio contact while it was over the South China Sea, less than an hour after takeoff.
That would be the last communication with the place because, at 1:22 am MYT, the aircraft disappeared from air traffic controllers radar screens. The military; however, continued to follow the flight until it too lost the slight somewhere over the Andaman Sea. A truly international flight, the plane went missing carrying 12 crew and 227 passengers from 15 nations; and it is presumed that there are no survivors.