Plane crashes are among the most deadly of all transport accidents due to the combination of conditions and amount of people involved. While flying by plane is still the safest way to travel, sometimes unforeseen circumstances or human fault causes huge disasters in aviation. Below you will find the world’s 10 biggest plane crashes in aviation history.

  1. Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision

Date: 1996, November 12nd.

  Fatal injuries Non-fatal injuries
First aircraft (Saudi Arabian Airlines) 312 0
Second aircraft (Kazakhstan Airlines) 37 0
Total 349 0

Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 763 and Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907 colided in the sky over Charkhi Dadri, India. It was the deadliest mid-air plane crash in aviation history. The catastrophe was the result of Kazakhstan Airlines’ plane’s altitude – it was lower than assigned. The passengers and crew of both aircraft all perished.

  1. Japan airlines flight 123

Date: 1985, August 12nd.

Fatal injuries Non-fatal injuries
524 0

Japan Airlines Flight 123 (JL 123) was a scheduled flight from Haneda Airport, Tokyo to Osaka International Airport, Japan. 32 minutes after take off, the flight suffered sudden decompression and plane crashed into Osutaka ridge, near Mount Osutaka.

Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission (AAIC) reported that decompression had been caused by faulty repair of aircraft tail done by Boeing company’s technicians 7 years earlier. Decompression ripped the plane’s tail and caused the loss of hydraulic controls. It was the deadliest single-aircraft plane crash in aviation history.

  1. Tenerife airport disaster

Date: 1997, March 27th.

  Fatal injuries Non-fatal injuries
First aircraft (KLM Airlines) 248 0
Second aircraft (Pan American Airlines) 335 61
Total 583 61

Two Boeing 747 passenger airliners, KLM Flight 4805 (KL 4805) and Pan Am Flight 1736 (PA 1736) crashed into each other on the runway at Tenerife North Airport, Tenerife. It was the second deadliest plane crash in aviation history.

Due to a terrorist incident at Gran Canaria Airport, many flights were forced to divert to Tenerife North Airport, including KL 4805 and PA 1736 flights. Airport was so crowded that taxiway became parking lot and departing planes had to taxi their way directly on the runway.

The accident occurred when KLM Royal Dutch Flight 4805 ignited full power and started to takeoff while Pan American World Flight 1736 was still on the runway and about to turn off of it. However, due to bad weather conditions (heavy fog), the two planes collided. Everyone on the KLM plane and most of the Pan American passengers died in the accident.

  1. 9/11 or September 11 attacks

Date: 2001, September 11th.

Fatal injuries Non-fatal injuries
2,996 6000+

The September 11 attacks were a coordinated terrorist attack by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda. 9/11 is the deadliest terrorist attack in human and aviation history as it involved commercial airlines to achieve its goals. It also was the deadliest plane crash for firefighters and law enforcement officers for the United States of America.

American Airlines Flight 11 (AA 11) and United Airlines Flight 175 (UA 175) were both hijacked by terrorists shortly after departure. The planes were then crashed into the North and South towers of World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. In less than 2 hours, both towers collapsed, accounting for the majority of the victims of the day. A third plane, American Airlines Flight 77 (AA 77), crashed into Pentagon and partially collapsed the west side of the building. The fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93 was supposed to strike Washington, D.C. However, passengers of UA 93 flight managed to overpower the hijackers and take partial control of the plane. However, no one had experience to control the aircraft, therefore, the plane crashed in a field near Pennsylvania.

6 other plane crashes with fatalities of 200 or higher in aviation history


Date Airline Reason Fatal injuries Non-fatal injuries
1974-03-03 Turkish Airlines Explosive decompression due to detached cargo door 346 0
1985-06-23 Air India Bomb in the cargo 329 0
1980-08-19 Saudi Arabian Airlines Baggage fire 301 0
2014-07-17 Malaysia Airlines Surface-to-air missile in Ukraine 298 0
1988-07-03 Iran Air Surface-to-air missile 290 0
2003-02-19 Iranian military Bad weather conditions 275 0
Total 1839 0

Total fatalities in aviation history since 1970:


Safest year in aviation history:


Total incidents in aviation history since 1970:


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