Commercial Passenger Airplane Crashes Fast Facts

Posted at 7:59 PM, Feb 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-12 13:32:08-04

Here’s a look at commercial passenger airplane crashes. For crashes caused by military acts or by terrorism, see Terrorism and War-Related Airplane Crashes Fast Facts.

On August 12, 1985, the largest number of deaths in a single commercial airplane crash occurred when a Japan Air Lines Boeing 747 crashed into Mt. Ogura in Japan, killing 520 passengers and crew members.

The deadliest commercial airplane accident occurred on March 27, 1977, when two Boeing 747s collided on a runway on the Spanish island of Tenerife, killing 583.

December 14, 1920 – Believed to be one of the first known commercial passenger airplane crashes, a British Handley Page HP-16 en route to Paris from London crashes just after takeoff, killing four of the eight people onboard.

March 3, 1974 – 346 people are killed when a Turkish Airlines DC-10 crashes in France, as a result of the cargo door not being fully latched.

March 27, 1977 – A KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 747 crashes into a Pan American World Airways Boeing 747 at the Los Rodeos Airport at Tenerife in the Canary Islands, killing a total of 583 (335 fatalities on the Pan American airplane and all 234 passengers plus 14 crew members on the KLM plane). The accident occurs when the KLM airplane begins its takeoff while the Pan American airplane is still on the runway.

May 25, 1979 – An American Airlines DC-10 crashes after takeoff from Chicago O’Hare International Airport, killing 271 onboard and another two on the ground. During takeoff, an engine on the left wing falls off; the FAA later faults American Airlines maintenance techniques for the crash.

November 28, 1979 – An Air New Zealand DC-10 crashes into Mt. Erebus on Antarctica and 257 people are killed. The crash is believed to be the result of a navigational error.

August 19, 1980 – Shortly after takeoff, a Saudi Arabian Airlines Lockheed L-1011 initiates a return back to Riyadh International Airport due to a fire in the aft cargo compartment. The pilot lands the plane safely and continues to a taxiway. All 301 passengers and crew members perish in the fire before an evacuation is initiated.

August 12, 1985 – The largest number of deaths in a single commercial airplane crash occurs when a Japan Air Lines Boeing 747 crashes into Mt. Ogura in Japan, killing 520 passengers and crew members.

April 28, 1988 – An Aloha Airlines Boeing 737 decompresses, causing an in-air explosion. The pilot manages to land the plane safely, but one person is killed and dozens of passengers and crew members are injured. Later, the NTSB faults the airline’s maintenance program for failing to address signs of metal fatigue and disbonding which ultimately caused the fuselage separation. The Aviation Safety Research Act of 1988 is passed by Congress as a result of this incident.

May 26, 1991 – Fifteen minutes after takeoff, a thrust reverser deploys on Lauda Air Boeing 767 Flight 004. The plane crashes 70 miles northwest of Bangkok, Thailand. All 223 passengers and crew are killed.

July 11, 1991 – The landing gear of a Nigeria Airways DC-8 catches on fire shortly after takeoff and upon return to the airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the plane crashes, killing all 261 people onboard.

April 26, 1994 – A China Airlines Airbus A300 crashes on approach to Nagoya Airport, Japan, and 264 people are killed.

May 11, 1996 – ValuJet Flight 592 crashes in the Florida Everglades, killing 110 people.

July 17, 1996 – TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747, explodes in air and crashes off the coast of Long Island, New York. All 230 people aboard are killed. The NTSB rules the explosion was caused by faulty wiring that ignited a center fuel tank.

November 12, 1996 – A midair collision between a Saudi Arabian Airlines 747 and a Kazakhstan Airlines II-76 takes place at the New Delhi, India airport. All 349 people on both airplanes are killed.

August 6, 1997 – A Korean Airlines Boeing 747 crashes in the Guam jungle and 228 people are killed.

September 26, 1997 – A Garuda Indonesia Airlines Airbus A300 crashes in Buah Nabar, Indonesia, killing 234 people.

February 16, 1998 – Flying through rain and fog, a China Airlines Airbus A300 crashes into a neighborhood near Taipei, Taiwan, killing all 196 aboard and another seven on the ground.

September 2, 1998 – A Swissair MD-11 crashes off Nova Scotia, Canada, killing 229. The Canadian Transportation Safety Board later concludes that flammable material and faulty wiring generated a fire that spread beyond the crew’s control.

October 31, 1999 – EgyptAir Flight 990, bound for Cairo from New York, crashes into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, plunging 14,000 feet in 36 seconds. All 203 passengers and 14 crew members are killed. The US National Transportation Safety Board determines the crash was the result of the co-pilot’s actions, but is unable to pinpoint why. It is widely believed the co-pilot deliberately caused the crash, but Egyptian authorities dispute this and reject the NTSB findings.

July 25, 2000 – The Air France Concorde, en route to New York, crashes into a Paris hotel shortly after takeoff, killing 113 (all 109 aboard and four on the ground).

November 12, 2001 – An American Airlines Airbus A300 crashes in Belle Harbor, Queens, shortly after takeoff from JFK Airport, killing a total of 265 people, including five people on the ground.

May 25, 2002 – A China Airlines Boeing 747 crashes into the Taiwan Strait 20 minutes after takeoff, killing all 225 on board. The crash is later attributed to metal fatigue brought on by a previous faulty repair job.

August 27, 2006 – Comair Flight 5191 crashes on takeoff from Blue Grass Airport in Fayette County, Kentucky. Forty-seven passengers and two crew members are killed.

January 15, 2009 – US Airways Flight 1549 lands in the Hudson River in New York City approximately three minutes after takeoff, and after hitting a flock of birds. All 155 aboard survive.

February 12, 2009 – Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashes into a house in Clarence Center, New York, killing all 49 people on board the plane and one person in the house.

June 1, 2009 – Air France Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris carrying 228 passengers and crew is lost over the Atlantic. The first bodies are recovered on June 6, approximately 600 miles off the northern coast of Brazil. On July 5, 2012, France’s Bureau of Investigation and Analysis releases a report concluding that a series of errors by pilots and a failure to react effectively to technical problems led to the crash of Air France Flight 447.

March 8, 2014 – Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappears from radar after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing. After more than 10 months of searching for the plane, on January 29, 2015, the government of Malaysia officially declares the loss of MH370 an accident and all of its passengers and crew, 239 people in total, are presumed dead. On August 5, 2015, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak says a piece of debris that washed up on the French island of Reunion is indeed part of missing Malaysian Flight 370. On January 17, 2017, the underwater search for MH370 is suspended, according to a joint statement from Chinese, Australian and Malaysian officials. On July 30, 2018, while announcing the release of a safety investigation report, Malaysian authorities say they have failed to determine the cause of the plane’s disappearance, while ruling out several possibilities.

March 24, 2015 – Germanwings Flight 9525 crashes into the French Alps after taking off from Barcelona, Spain, en route to Dusseldorf, Germany. All 150 people on board are killed. On March 26, 2015, officials say that 27-year-old co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed the plane after locking the pilot out of the cockpit. A later investigation reveals that he had suffered from depression in the past.

March 10, 2019 – A Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes, killing all 157 people on aboard, marking the second time in less than six months that one of the planes has crashed within minutes of takeoff. Both crashes are under investigation and there is no evidence of a link between the two, but similarities between the incidents have prompted caution among some aviation authorities and airlines.