A list of the deadliest airplane crashes in history should serve as a reminder about how fragile life is. Airline travel is considered as being one of the safest means of transportation, with the least amount of deaths per miles traveled. However, from time to time, stories of horrific airplane crashes do make the news, and how!. History has had its fair share of airline catastrophes, here are a few.

1. 1988 – Pan American Flight 103:

Pan American flight 103 was victim to a bomb blast that cause the aircraft to blow up over Scotland. It was later learned that a Libyan agent was ultimately convicted and charged for the incident.

Pan Am


Pan Am1

2. 1983 – Korean Airlines Flight 007:

An incorrect use of the navigation system lead to the Korean Airlines Flight 007 being deviated from its route to Seoul and left it heading straight towards the Soviet Union. The flight was ultimately shot down by a Soviet Su-15 interceptor near Moneron Island, which had allegedly mistaken the plane for a military spy.

Korean Airlines

3. 1979 – American Airlines Flight 191:

The 1979 flight of a DC-10 operated by American Airlines represents, to this day, the deadliest airplane crash on US ground. Upon takeoff, the engine fell off, cutting a large portion of the left wing, which left pilots unable to manage the aircraft that ultimately crashed into a field, killing everyone on board.

American Airlines

American Airlines1

4. 1988 – Iran Air Flight 655:

In one of the most controversial international military incidents, the Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down by a US military helicopter somewhere over the Persian Gulf. The American helicopter had unfortunately mistaken the civilian flight for a military aircraft that appeared to be flying directly towards them.

Iran Air

5. 1980 – Saudia Flight 163:

Several minutes after taking off from the Riyadh airport, the airplane was forced to descend due to a fire that broke out in the cargo compartment. The crew failed to order an immediate evacuation, which led to 301 people being killed as a result of smoke inhalation.


6. 2003 – Iran Ilyushin Il-76:

Little information is known about the crash of the Iran Ilyushin Il-76, despite the death toll. It is presumed that the main contributor to the crash was bad weather, as there are reports of fog and high winds on that day.

Iran Ilyushin

7. 1974 – Turkish Airlines Flight 981:

The DC-10, operated by Turkish Airlines, was on course from Paris to London, when its cargo hatch blew off. The pilot lost all control and a little over a minute later the aircraft crashed into a forest. The plane virtually disintegrated upon impact.

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines1

8. 1996 – Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabian Airlines:

The Kazakhstan Airlines plane was descending towards the Delhi airport just as the Saudi Arabian flight was taking off. The two planes collided midair, as a result of poor radio operator control, as well as due to an outdated radio system, that did not accurately display the location of the airplanes.

Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabian Airlines

9. 1985 - Japan Airlines Flight 123:

The Japan Airlines Flight 123 disaster represents the deadliest crash involving one single airplane. After losing all its four hydraulic systems, only a few minutes after take off, the plane wandered off aimlessly for some time before finally crashing in the mountains, killing nearly everyone on board.

Japan Airlines Flight

10. 1977 - Pan Am and KLM:

The deadliest airplane crash in history occurred more than 3 decades ago on the Los Rodeos Airport in Tenerife, when two Boeing 747s, operated by Pan Am and KLM, respectively, collided on the runway. Several factors contributed to the accident, including weather conditions and confusing radio instructions.

Pan Am and KLM

Pan Am and KLM1

U.S. 747 Plane Crash in Afghanistan

This involved a cargo plane, so is not aprt of the top 10 list. See the amazing video of the crash below.

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