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10 Highest Bodycount Plane Crashes

The following is a list outlining the worst and most tragic aviation disasters known to mankind (not including September 11). So the next time you’re thinking of flying, bear in mind that accidents happen.

10. September 1, 1983:

Korean Airlines Flight 007, which would later become known as KAL007, was shot down by Soviet fighter planes, having being intercepted after somehow straying into Soviet airspace. The incident took place near Sakhalin island, with all 269 passengers and crew being killed in the subsequent plane crash.

9. December 21, 1988:

270 people in total (from passengers, crew and 11 people on the ground) when Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie in Scotland at 19:02 GMT. Two Libyan agents are held over charges of planting a bomb on the plane (so it will later be known as the Lockerbie Bombing/Disaster) and one is sentenced to 27 years in prison, while the other is acquitted.

8. May 25, 1979:

Infamous as the worst aircraft incident in the US until September 11, 2001, the incident claimed the lives of 273 people. It started as American Airlines Flight 191 was lifting off from the runway at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, when suddenly an engine detached from the plane. Before anyone can fully grasp the situation, the aircraft pitches 90 degrees and crashes nearby. With an entire flight’s worth of fuel in the tank, the aircraft explodes in a huge fireball, visible from miles around, disintegrating the craft and everyone on it.

7. July 3, 1988:

Iran Air Flight 655 is shot down whilst flying of the Straits of Hormuz by the US Navy’s own USS Vincennes. Allegedly, the Vincennes mistook the civilian airliner for a hostile military aircraft and launched surface-to-air missiles at it. All passengers and crew aboard IR655 were killed, totally 290 deaths, 66 of which were children. The accompanying picture is an Iranian stamp released shortly after the attack.

6. August 19, 1980:

A Lockheed L-1011, or Saudia Flight 163, returns to land at Riyadh’s International Airport after only six minutes into its journey, following reports of a fire at the rear of the aircraft. The captain decided to slowly land the craft safely, rolling to a stop on the runway several minutes after actually landing. An emergency evacuation was not immediately ordered for reasons still unknown and the engines were not shut down for another several minutes, preventing any rescue forces from getting near the plane. Due to this delay, all 301 people on board burn to death in the ensuing flash-fire as it rages through the aircraft.

5. June 23, 1985:

Air India Flight 182 was flying over the Atlantic Ocean when a bomb supposedly planted by a Sikh extremist explodes, sending the aircraft crashing into the sea below, killing all 329 of the craft’s occupants, 280 of whom where Canadian, thus making it the single largest act of mass murder committed in Canadian history.

4. March 3, 1974:

The badly-designed cargo door of Turkish Airlines Flight 981 came free from its fastenings, rapidly depressurizing the entire aircraft. This also led to further control problems, as cables that ran through the floor were completely severed, affording the pilots little to no control over their own aircraft. The plane crashed into the nearby forest of Ermenonville, near Paris’ Orly (ya rly) International Airport. The incident would come to be referred to as the Ermenonville air disaster, after the forest in which it crashed, claiming all 346 lives of passengers and crew.

3. November 12, 1996:

Referred to as the Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision and also as the worst mid-air collision disaster to date, this occurred when an Air Kazakhstan (Flight 1907) aircraft collided with a Saudi Arabian Airlines (Flight 763) aircraft over the Indian village of Charkhi Dadri, killing everyone aboard both aircraft, totaling 349. Ultimately, the blame is said to rest with the Kazakh pilot and his inability to follow instructions.

2. August 12, 1985:

Japan Airlines Flight 123 suffered catastrophic damage to part of the aircraft’s tail shortly after takeoff, rendering it uncontrollable. The incident was caused by faulty repairs to a damaged rear pressure bulkhead, which had occurred 7 years earlier. The bulkhead then gave way, damaging hydraulic systems needed to maintain control over the aircraft. The subsequent crash – which killed 520 people, leaving 4 survivors – is cited as being the most devastating single-aircraft accident in history.

1. March 27, 1977:

The worst accident in aviation history occurred when two Boeing 747 aircraft – Pan Am Flight 1736 and KLM Flight 4805 – collided on the runway of a Tenerife airport. Essentially, the KLM proceeded with a takeoff from the airport’s only runway without permission, colliding straight into the Pam Am aircraft that was taxiing along the same runway. Conditions were foggy, so it was hard to maintain a visual from either of the aircraft and there was also confusion over various radio instructions. This accident resulted in the deaths of 583 people.

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