14 Famous Plane Crashes Around the World

You have probably heard it said that driving a car was a lot more dangerous than flying in a plane. Properly maintained airplanes are safer than cars, but despite all the precautions taken by airlines, plane crashes still happen.

Here are 14 famous plane crashes you might remember if you are interested in aviation.

1. The terrorist attacks of September 11 – 2,996 deaths

This might be one of the most famous plane crashes in world history. Everyone has heard of the deadly terrorist attacks that happened on September 11, 2001. Four planes were hijacked and crashed, in what is still considered the deadliest aviation-related disaster of all times. In total, 2,996 people died, including the 19 terrorist hijackers responsible.

2. The Tenerife airport disaster – 583 deaths

The Tenerife airport disaster happened at Los Rodeos Airport, on the Canary Island of Tenerife, on March 27, 1977. A KLM Boeing 747 tried to take off without clearance, and crashed into another plane. Pilot error, and a dense fog which reduced visibility, were responsible for the tragedy that killed 583 people.

3. The crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123 – 520 deaths

The Japan Airlines Flight 123 was a Boeing 747 that crashed on August 12, 1985. Only 12 minutes after leaving the Tokyo International Airport, the plane suffered an explosive decompression that made it uncontrollable. Known as one of the most famous plane crashes in Japan, it eventually crashed into a mountain, and 520 people died.

4. The Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision – 349 deaths

On November 12, 1996, a mid-air collision occured over Charkhi Dadri in India, between Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 763 and Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907. Exactly 349 people died as a result. The collision happened mainly because the pilot of the second plane was flying lower than he was supposed to.

5. The crash of Turkish Airlines Flight 918 – 346 deaths

Turkish Airlines Flight 198, which was a McDonnell Douglas DC-10, crashed in a forest near Paris, France on March 3, 1974. The 346 people who were on board died. The famous plane crash occured because the cargo door detached, which caused an explosive decompression that damaged the plane.

6. The crash of Air India Flight 182 – 329 deaths

On June 23, 1985, a bomb exploded in the cargo hold of Air India Flight 182. The Boeing 747-237B crashed off the southwest coast of Ireland, and there were no survivors. It was determined that Sikh extremists were responsible for the terrorist attack that killed 329 people.

7. The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 – 298 deaths

On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was allegedly shot down by Ukrainian separatists near the Russian-Ukrainian border. The Boeing 777-200ER crashed, and the 298 people who were on board all died. This is the deadliest incident involving a Boeing 777.

8. The shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655 – 290 deaths

On July 3, 1988, Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down by two missiles from the U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes. All 290 people who were on board died. The crew of the missile cruiser allegedly mistook the Airbus A300-200 for a F-14 Tomcat Fighter.

9. The crash of an Iranian military Ilyushin II-76 – 275 deaths

An Iranian military Ilyushin II-76 crashed in mountainous terrain near Kerman, Iran on February 19, 2003. Strong winds were probably responsible for the crash, which killed the 275 people who were on board the plane, all members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

10. The crash of American Airlines Flight 191 – 271 deaths

On May 25, 1979, American Airlines Flight 191 crashed not long after leaving the Chicago O’Hare Airport. The McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 lost one of its engines due to improper maintenance. The crash killed the 271 people who were on board, as well as 2 people who were on the ground.

11. The crash of Pan Am Flight 103 – 270 deaths

Pan Am Flight 103, a Boeing 747-121, was destroyed by a bomb on December 21, 1988. This was the worst terrorist attack involving a plane in the UK, as the plane crashed near the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 in total.

12. The shooting down of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 – 269 deaths

Korean Air Lines Flight 007, which was a Boeing 747-230B, was shot down by a Soviet interceptor Sukhoi Su-15 on September 1, 1983. This happened after the Boeing flew into Soviet airspace, and the 269 people on board died.

13. The crash of American Airlines Flight 587 – 265 deaths

On November 12, 2001, American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in a neighbourhood of Queens, New York a moment after leaving John F. Kennedy International Airport due to pilot error. The 260 people on board the Airbus A300 died, along with 5 people who were on the ground.

14. The crash of China Airlines Flight 140 – 264 deaths

On April 26, 1994, China Airlines Flight 140 was approaching Japan’s Nagoya Airport after a routine flight when the first officer of the Airbus A300B4-622R made a fatal error which resulted in a deadly crash. Of the 271 people who were on board, 264 died.

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