- Not villainous; just accidents/disasters
An aviation accident is defined by the Convention on International Civil Aviation Annex 13 as an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft, which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight until such time as all such persons have disembarked, where a person is fatally or seriously injured, the aircraft sustains damage or structural failure or the aircraft is missing or is completely inaccessible. The first fatal aviation accident occurred in a Wright Model A aircraft at Fort Myer, Virginia, USA, on 17 September 1908, resulting in injury to the pilot, Orville Wright and death of the passenger, Signal Corps Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge. An aviation incident is defined as an occurrence, other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft that affects or could affect the safety of operations. An accident in which the damage to the aircraft is such that it must be written off, or in which the plane is destroyed is a hull loss accident
- The plane may be flying at such a high level in which the plane becomes susceptible to Metal Fatigue in which a crack/hole appears in the roof and air is lost from the craft.
- Engine failure
- Technical failure
- Lack of sleep in some cases the plane may be stuck in the sky because air traffic controllers may be asleep as air traffic control is a 24 hour job.
The deadliest aviation-related disaster of any kind, considering fatalities on both the aircraft and the ground, was the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City on 11 September 2001, with the intentional crashing of American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175. The World Trade Center crashes killed 2,752, the vast majority of them occupants of the World Trade Center towers or emergency personnel responding to the disaster. In addition, 189 were killed when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon; 44 were killed when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field, bringing the total number of casualties of the September 11 attacks to 2,977 (excluding the 19 terrorist hijackers). As deliberate terrorist acts, the 9/11 crashes were not classified as accidents, but as mass murder-suicide; these events were subsequently treated by the United States and the member nations of NATO as an act of war and terrorism.
The Tenerife disaster, which happened on 27 March 1977, remains the catastrophic accident with the highest number of airliner passenger fatalities. 583 people died when a KLM Boeing 747 attempted take-off without clearance, and collided with a taxiing Pan Am 747 at Los Rodeos Airport on the island of Tenerife, Spain. Both planes were completely destroyed. There were no survivors at all on the KLM and only 61 on the Pan Am. Pilot error was the primary cause (the KLM captain thought he had clearance for takeoff due to a communication misunderstanding). The other cause was that there was extreme fog so the KLM captain could not see the Pan Am on the runway.
JAL Flight 123
The crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123, on August 12, 1985 is the single-aircraft disaster with the highest number of fatalities: 520 died on board a Boeing 747. The aircraft suffered an explosive decompression from an incorrectly repaired aft pressure bulkhead, which failed in mid flight, destroying most of its vertical stabilizer, severing all of the hydraulic lines, making the 747 virtually uncontrollable. Pilots were able to keep the plane flying for half an hour before crashing into a mountain. Remarkably, several people survived, but by the time the Japanese rescue teams arrived at the crash site, all but four had succumbed to their injuries.
Other crashes with high death tolls
The world's deadliest mid-air collision (November 12, 1996) was the 1996 Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision involving Saudia Flight 763 and Air Kazakhstan Flight 1907 over Haryana, India. The crash was mainly the result of the Kazakh pilot flying lower than the assigned clearance altitude. All 349 passengers and crew on board the two aircraft died. The Ramesh Chandra Lahoti Commission, empowered to study the causes, recommended the creation of "air corridors" to prevent aircraft from flying in opposite directions at the same altitude. The Civil Aviation Authorities in India made it mandatory for all aircraft flying in and out of India to be equipped with an ACAS (Airborne Collision Avoidance System), setting a world wide precedent for mandatory use of ACAS. On 3 March 1974, Turkish Airlines Flight 981, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10, crashed in a forest northeast of Paris, France. The London-bound plane crashed shortly after taking off from Orly airport; all 346 people on board died. It was later determined that the cargo door detached, which caused an explosive decompression; this caused the floor just above to collapse. The collapsed floor severed the control cables, which left the pilots without control of the elevators, the rudder and No. 2 engine. The plane entered a steep dive and crashed. It was the deadliest plane crash of all time until the Tenerife disaster in 1977. On 19 August 1980, Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 163, a Lockheed L-1011 became the world's deadliest aviation accident that did not involve a crash. The crew preformed a successful emergency landing after a fire broke out in the rear cargo hold. However the aircraft was not evacuated and all 301 passengers and crew died in the fire. On 23 June 1985, Air India Flight 182 Boeing 747-237B crashed off the southwest coast of Ireland when a bomb exploded in the cargo hold. All 307 passengers and 22 crew members died. One passenger had checked in as "M. Singh". Singh did not board the flight, however, his suitcase containing the bomb was loaded onto the plane. "Mr Singh" was never identified and captured. It was later determined Sikh extremists were behind the bombing as a retaliation for the Indian government's attack on the sacred Golden Temple in the city of Amritsar, which is very important for the Sikhs. This was, at the time, the deadliest terrorist attack involving an airplane. 12 December 1985: A Douglas DC-8, Arrow Air Flight 1285, carrying American military personnel on a charter flight home for Christmas, crashed in Newfoundland, killing all 248 passengers and 8 crew members. The Canadian Aviation Safety Board investigating the cause of the crash issued two different reports: The majority report cited ice on the wings as cause of the crash; the minority report suggests an explosion was the likely cause. This crash remains the worst air disaster in both US military and Canadian aviation history. Iran Air Flight 655 was an Iranian civilian airliner shot down by two surface-to-air missiles from the U.S. Navy's guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes on Sunday, 3 July 1988, over the Strait of Hormuz, killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard, ranking it seventh among the deadliest airline disasters. On 25 May 1979, American Airlines Flight 191, following improper maintenance and the loss of an engine, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10, lost control and crashed near O'Hare International Airport in Des Plaines, Illinois. The crash killed all 271 passengers and crew on board, as well as two people on the ground. It remains the deadliest commercial aircraft accident in the United States history, and was also the country's deadliest aviation disaster until the September 11 attacks in 2001. On 1 September 1983, a Soviet interceptor Sukhoi Su-15 shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 after it flew into Soviet airspace, killing all 269 passengers and crew. On 25 July 2000, Air France Flight 4590 crashed, resulting in the death of 109 people on board, aswell as 4 people on the ground. According to the documentary "Counterfeit culture", part of the reason why the crash occured was due to the use of a counterfeit component used in the aircraft. On 12 November 2001, American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300, crashed in the Belle Harbor neighborhood of Queens, New York, just after departing John F. Kennedy International Airport bound for Las Américas International Airport, Santo Domingo. The first officer's overuse of the rudder in response to wake turbulence from a Japan Airlines 747 was cited as cause. The crash killed all 260 people on board, as well as five people on the ground. It is the second-deadliest aviation accident on U.S. soil, after American Airlines Flight 191. Pan Am Flight 103 was a Boeing 747–121 bound for New York-JFK from London-Heathrow with continued service to Detroit, that was destroyed by a terrorist bomb over the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, on 21 December 1988. The crash killed all 243 passengers and 16 crew, and 11 people on the ground (all of whom were residents of Sherwood Crescent, Lockerbie), making it the worst terrorist attack involving an aircraft in the UK. This remains the deadliest terrorist attack on British soil. Following the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration imposed new security measures on American airlines flying out of 103 airports in Western Europe and the Middle East. On 17 July 1996 TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, New York 12 minutes after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport, killing all 230 people on board. On 2 September 1998, Swissair Flight 111 crashed into St. Margaret's Bay, nearby Halifax, Nova Scotia, killing all 229 people on board. Fire had broken out in the cockpit; the plane disintegrated upon impact with the water. On 26 May 1991, shortly after take-off from Bangkok, Lauda Air Flight 004, a Boeing 767-3Z9ER named "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart," crashed in Thailand. The un-commanded deployment of one of the thrust reversers caused the loss of all 223 passengers, and crew, aboard the 767. On 31 October 1999, around 01:50 EST, in international waters, EgyptAir Flight 990 (MSR990) crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, about 60 miles (97 km) south of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, killing all 217 people on board. The National Transportation Safety Board report concluded the pilot intentionally dove the aircraft into the ocean; Egyptian authorities have vigorously denied this conclusion saying a mechanical failure was to blame.