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9 Worst Airline Disasters That Scared Travelers Around The World

Please do NOT read this if you are about to board a flight in the near future. Airports and railway stations witness maximum tears - some of joy on receiving your loved ones and others of grief when sending off someone close to you. While the former scenario is obviously a happy one, it is the latter situation that doesn’t let us rest unless the flight or train has reached its destination. The fear of a probable accident or mishap that is beyond our control lingers on in our minds until the phone rings and the news of the safe arrival of our dear one(s) is received. It does not take much to switch off the television and news after listening to the accidents but it takes a lifetime to get over the grief of losing someone. It is beyond our imagination to fathom the sorrow of the family and friends who have lost someone dear forever. In my case, just a simple revisit of some of the deadliest accidents and their pictures gives me goosebumps and leaves me tossing and turning in bed. I wonder what the survivors and victims’ families of these worst airline disasters must have gone through. These aviation accidents are too tragic to be forgotten.

1. Japan Airlines Flight 123 (1985)

Single-aircraft disaster with the maximum fatalities, the Japan Airlines Flight 123 crashed into mountains after suffering from an explosive decompression caused by a faulty repaired aft pressure bulkhead. The pilots lost control of the Boeing 747 after all its hydraulic lines were severed and vertical stabilizers destroyed mid-flight. The crash that happened on August 12, 1985, took the life of all 15 crew members and 505 passengers, leaving only four survivors who were fortunate enough to be rushed to hospital on time. 

2. Tenerife Airport Disaster (1977)

March 27, 1977, will always be remembered for one of the most disastrous airlines crashes ever. The accident was caused by the pilot's negligence and irresponsible act. The pilot of KLM Boeing 747 struck the runway for the takeoff without clearance from air traffic control authorities and rammed into Pan Am 747 that was taxiing at the Los Rodeos Airport on the Canary Island of Tenerife, Spain. Dense fog was also blamed for this mishap that left a total of 583 people dead and holds the record for highest number of airline passenger fatalities. 

3. Saudi Arabian Flight 163 (1980)

Another of those deadliest aviation disasters that were caused by pilot and crew's lack of quick wit was the Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 163 mishap. This Lockheed L-1011 saw a fire in the aft baggage compartment and was scheduled for an emergency landing.Though the flight landed safely, there was not a sole survivor. After landing, the captain did not stop to order an emergency evacuation and instead taxied off the runway. By this time, the fire had reached the passenger cabin and suffocated everyone inside as the doors were left unopened. When the rescue ground crew opened the doors, all the 301 passengers and crew had died of suffocation. The aircraft burst into flames soon after and August 19, 1980, became one of the most unfortunate days in the history of airline disasters. 

4. Charkhi Dadri Mid-Air Collision (1977)

A terrifying mid-air collision in the history of humanity was the Charkhi Dadri collision of Saudia Flight 763 and Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907. The incident took place on November 12, 1996, over Haryana, India when Kazakh pilot – preparing for its descent - was flying lower than its designated altitude and collided with the Saudia flight that had just taken off from the Delhi airport. None of the two airlines survived this fatal accident. Following this tragedy, the Civil Aviation Authorities in India made it compulsory for all aircrafts' flying in and out of India to have a Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) in place.

5. American Airlines Flight 587 (2001)

Almost a couple of decades after the American Airlines Flight 191 quavered the powerful country; another aviation disaster occurred on November 12, 2001. It was again the American Airlines that crashed, snatching away the life of all 260 people on board the Airbus A300 and killing five people on the ground.The American Airlines 587 crashed soon after departing from the John F. Kennedy International Airport. The cause of this accident is said to be the overuse of the rudder by the first officer in response to wake turbulence from a Japan Airlines 747. The accident happened in the Belle Harbor neighborhood of Queens, New York and is by far the second deadliest aviation disaster of the USA.

6. Air New Zealand Flight 901 (1979)

Termed as the most tragic and deadliest peacetime disaster of New Zealand, the Air New Zealand Flight 901 crash was a result of human error. This was an Antarctic sightseeing flight that ran successfully from 1977 to 1979 before crashing into Mount Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica. The coordinates for this flight were changed a night before but the crew was not informed of the same, and the flight ran straight into Mount Erebus killing all the 237 passengers and 20 crew members on board. 

China Airways Flight 140 (1994)

The deadliest accident in the history of China Airlines, this also remains as the second deadliest aviation accident on the Japanese soil. China Airways Flight 140 was completing its routine flight on April 26, 1994, and was preparing to land at the Nagoya Airport, Japan when the First Officer of this Airbus A300B4-622R inadvertently pressed the take-off/Go-around button that raised the throttle position to the same as take-offs or go-arounds.As the altitude was not sufficient enough to recover from this situation, the flight crashed, killing 264 people (249 passengers and 15 crew members) out of the 271 people on board.

9. 8. Nigeria Airways Flight 2120 (1991)

After its two tires had caught fire while taking off, the Nigeria Airways Flight 2120 experienced an in-flight fire and crashed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on July 11, 1991. This DC-8 aircraft was operated by Nationair Canada and is till date the biggest aviation disaster involving a Canadian-registered aircraft. Each of the 247 passengers and 14 crew members aboard lost their life in this accident. 

9. Turkish Airlines Flight 981 (1974)

This was regarded as the deadliest aircraft disaster of all times before Tenerife disaster occurred. The Turkish Airlines Flight 981 crashed shortly after take-off from the Orly airport. The cargo door's detachment was the main reason cited for this tragic mishap that killed all the 346 people aboard. The detachment of goods hatch led to an explosive decompression that resulted in the collapsing of the floor above. This collapsed floor destroyed the control lines thereby leaving the pilots with no control of the aircraft. The flight nose dived steeply and crashed into the forests, northeast of Paris, France. We just hope that the aircraft engineers, crew, pilots, and authorities have learned their lessons and are more sincere towards their responsibilities. Happy flying folks!