Causes of Airline Accidents in Omaha

causes-aviation-accidentsNo one imagines that their trip will end or begin in an airplane accident. Just the thought of embarking on a trip only to become the victim of an aircraft accident is the stuff of nightmares. In the aftermath of an airplane accident, you may feel disoriented and curious about the different causes of an airline accident.

The following section details the eleven leading causes of aircraft accidents.

Air traffic controllers are human and they make mistakes. When they do make mistakes, those mistakes can be quite costly. Air traffic controllers make over 1,000 mistakes each year while handling millions of flights.

All traffic air controllers are now monitored by electronic devices that can record their errors. These devices have been useful in altering how air traffic controllers are trained and disciplined to avert future mistakes.

09/03/1929Mt. Taylor, New MexicoTrans Con. Air Transport
06/13/1947Leesburg, VirginiaPen Central Air
11/11/1949Arlington, VirginiaEastern / U.S. AF
04/14/1958Castel de Fels, SpainAviaco
07/21/1961Shemya, AlaskaAlaska AL
02/08/1965New York, New YorkEastern AL
01/14/1970Mt. Pumacona, PeruFaucett
02/06/1970Samarkand, USSRAeroflot
12/20/1972Chicago, IllinoisDelta/North Central
09/09/1976Adler, RussiaAeroflot / Aeroflot
09/10/1976Gaj, YugoslaviaInex / British AW
08/11/1979Dneprodzerzhinsk, USSRAeroflot
02/01/1991Los Angeles, CaliforniaUSAir/Skywest
05/19/1993Medellin, ColombiaSAM
11/07/1996Lagos, NigeriaAviation Dev. Corp.
09/26/1997Buah Nabar, IndonesiaGarudaIndonesian AL
07/01/2002Uberlinger, GermanyBashkirian AL / DHL

Bird Strike

Bird strikes occur when a bird connects with airplanes. Despite advancements in technology, bird strikes still pose a serious threat to aircrafts.

Bird strikes are more likely to occur while the plane is descending or ascending and is flying at low altitudes. Bird strikes are also more likely to occur during seasonal migrations.

09/03/1929Mt. Taylor, New MexicoTrans Con. Air Transport
06/13/1947Leesburg, VirginiaPen Central Air
11/11/1949Arlington, VirginiaEastern / U.S. AF
04/14/1958Castel de Fels, SpainAviaco
07/21/1961Shemya, AlaskaAlaska AL
02/08/1965New York, New YorkEastern AL
01/14/1970Mt. Pumacona, PeruFaucett
02/06/1970Samarkand, USSRAeroflot
12/20/1972Chicago, IllinoisDelta/North Central
09/09/1976Adler, RussiaAeroflot / Aeroflot
09/10/1976Gaj, YugoslaviaInex / British AW
08/11/1979Dneprodzerzhinsk, USSRAeroflot
02/01/1991Los Angeles, CaliforniaUSAir/Skywest
05/19/1993Medellin, ColombiaSAM
11/07/1996Lagos, NigeriaAviation Dev. Corp.
09/26/1997Buah Nabar, IndonesiaGarudaIndonesian AL
07/01/2002Uberlinger, GermanyBashkirian AL / DHL

Cargo Hold / Cabin Fire

During the 1980s and the 1990s many airplane accident fatalities could be attributed to cabin fires. In fact, during the decade from 1981-1990 20 percent of all airplane fatalities were caused by fires on the plane.

A plane may catch on fire while taking off, flying or landing. Many smaller fires can be contained, however, fires that are related to electrical shortages, equipment failures or improper cargo can cause uncontrollable fires.

Updates in the materials used to construct airplane cabins have decreased the number of cabin fires, but they do still occur.

07/09/1945Florence, South CarolinaEastern AL
06/17/1948Mt. Carmel, PennsylvaniaUnited AL
08/02/1949Jaquirana, BrazilVarig
01/09/1964Zarate, ArgentinaAero Litoral Argentina
07/09/1964Parrottsville, TennesseeUnited AL
07/26/1969Biskra, AlgeriaAir Algerie
08/14/1972Konigs, East GermanyInterflug
08/31/1972Magnitogorsk, RussiaAeroflot
07/11/1973Paris, Orly, FranceVarig
11/03/1973Boston, MassachusettsPan American
11/26/1979Ta’if, Jeddah, Saudi ArabiaPakistan Inter. AL
08/19/1980Riyadh, Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabian AL
12/24/1982Guangzhou, ChinaCAAC
06/02/1983Covington, KentuckyAir Canada
07/02/1986Syktyvar, RussiaAeroflot
05/09/1987Warsaw, PolandLOT
11/28/1987Mauritius, Indian OceanSouth African Airways
01/13/1990Pervouralsk, RussiaAeroflot
07/12/1995Gumey, New GuineaMilne Bay Air
05/11/1996Everglades, FloridaValuJet
09/02/1998Peggy’s Cove, Nova ScotiaSwissair
05/07/2002Off Dalian, ChinaChina Northern Airlines

Design Flaw

Poorly designed aircraft can cause accidents. For instance, an airplane design flaw that allowed carbon monoxide to leak into the cockpit incapacitated the entire crew and crashed a United Airlines plane.

Design flaws such as square windows or other designs that create stress points can cause entire planes to fall apart midair. Design flaws in runways can also contribute to airplane crashes.

03/31/1933Bazaar, KansasTrans Cont. & Western AW
10/24/1947Bryce Canyon, UtahUnited AL
11/11/1947Gallup, New MexicoAmerican AL
06/17/1948Mt. Carmel, PennsylvaniaUnited AL
08/29/1948Winona, MinnesotaNorthwest Orient AL
05/02/1953Jalalogori, IndiaBritish Overseas AW
01/10/1954Elba, ItalyBritish Overseas AW
04/08/1954Off Stromboli, ItalyTrans Canada AL
02/05/1955Calabar, NigeriaWest African AW
09/29/1959Buffalo, TexasBraniff AL
03/17/1960Tell City, IndianaNorthwest Orient AL
07/05/1970Toronto, CanadaAir Canada
07/06/1982Moscow, RussiaAeroflot
03/03/1991Colorado Springs, ColoradoUnited Airlines
07/30/1992New York, New YorkTrans World Airlines
04/06/1993Over the Pacific OceanChina Eastern Airlines
09/08/1994Aliquippa, PennsylvaniaUS Air
12/05/1997Irkutsk, RussiaRussian Air Force

Sabotage- Explosive Device

The threat of terrorism is always present and the threat of sabotage in the form of explosives is at the heart of new transportation safety regulations.

Passengers are often the source of the sabotage attempts which lead to airplane accidents. About nine percent of airplane crashes every year are caused by sabotage.

Though sabotage attempts are rare, when they do succeed they have the potential to injure and kill everyone on board.

03/28/1933Dixmude, BelgiumImperial AW
10/10/1933Chesterton, IndianaUnited AL
05/07/1949Sibuyan Sea, PhilippinesPhillipine AL
09/09/1949Sault-aux-Cochons, CanadaCanadian Pacific AL
08/12/1952Palmeria de Goias, BrazilTrans Aero Nac.
04/11/1955Great Natuna Island, SarawakAir India
11/01/1955Longmont, ColoradoUnited AL
07/25/1957Daggett, CaliforniaWestern AL
04/17/1959Puerto Kino,MexicoTigres Voladores
09/06/1959Poza Rica, MexicoMexicana
11/16/1959Gulf of MexicoNational AL
01/06/1960Bolivia, North CarolinaNational AL
05/10/1961In Amenas, LibyaAir France
05/22/1962Unionville, MissouriContinental AL
12/08/1964Tripuani, BoliviaAerolineas Abaroa
07/08/1965Dog Creek, British ColumbiaCanadian Pacific AL
11/22/1966Aden, YemenAden AW
02/09/1967Mexico City, MexicoCubana
10/12/1967Rhodes, GreeceBritish European AW
12/22/1969Nha Trang, VietnamAir Vietnam
02/21/1970Zurich, SwitzerlandSwissair
04/21/1970Manila, PhilippinesPhilippine AL
11/21/1971Penhu Island, TaiwanChina AL
01/26/1972Hermsdorf, CzechoslovakiaJAT
06/15/1972Pleiku, VietnamCathay Pacific AW
03/19/1973Ben Me Thout, South VietnamAir Vietnam
04/21/1973Patabangan, PhilippinesPhilippine AL
12/17/1973Rome, ItalyPan American AW
09/08/1974Ionian Sea, GreeceTrans World AL
01/01/1976Al Qaysumah, Saudi ArabiaMiddle East AL
10/06/1976Bridgetown, BarbadosCubana
02/19/1979Barentu, EthiopiaEthiopian Airlines
06/27/1980Tyrrhenian Sea, ItalyItavia
12/21/1980Rio Hacha, ColombiaTrans. Aereos del Caribe
09/23/1983Mina Jebel Ali, UAEGulf Air
06/23/1985Atlantic Ocean, IrelandAir India
04/02/1986Athens, GreeceTrans World AL
05/03/1986Colombo, Sri LankaAir Lanka
11/29/1987Andaman SeaKorean AL
03/01/1988Johannesberg, South AfricaComair
12/21/1988Lockerbie, ScotlandPan American AW
09/19/1989Bilma, NigerUnion des Trans. Aeriens
11/27/1989Bogota, ColombiaAvianca
07/19/1994Colon, PanamaAlas Chiricanas
12/11/1994Pacific Ocean, OkinawaPhilippine AL
07/09/1997Suzano, BrazilTAM
03/03/2001Bangkok, ThailandThai Airways
05/07/2002Off Dalian, ChinaChina Northern Airlines
08/24/2004Toula, RussiaVolga-Avia Express
08/24/2004Rostov-on-Don, RussiaSibir Airlines

Fuel Starvation

When a plane runs out of fuel, an accident may occur. However, this does not always occur because the fuel tank was not filled all the way to the top.

Sometimes, a leak in the fuel valve or other technical malfunction can cause the engines to draw fuel from the wrong tanks.

05/06/1936Macon, MissouriTranscon. & West. Air
12/31/1935Alexandria, EgyptImperial AW
01/14/1936Goodwin, ArkansasAmerican AL
07/02/1937Lae, New GuineaPurdue Res. Found.
11/28/1938Off Point Reyes, Calif.United Air Lines
02/09/1943Gander, NewfoundlandBritish Overseas AW
12/26/1946Michigan City, MichiganAmerican AL
01/05/1947Carmel, New JerseyNationwide Air Trans.
01/11/1947Lympne, EnglandBOAC
01/07/1948Savannah, GeorgiaCoastal Air Lines
01/30/1948Near BermudaBritish So. Am. AW
12/28/1948San Juan, Puerto RicoAirborne Transport
08/15/1949Lurga Point, IrelandTransocean Air Lines
07/28/1950Porte Alegre, BrazilPenair do Brasil
04/30/1952Delhi, IndiaDeccan, AW
06/19/1954Folkestone, EnglandSwissair
12/22/1954Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaJohnson Flying Service
04/04/1967Stockport, EnglandBritish Midland AW
05/02/1970St. Croix, Virgin IslandsAntillian AL
08/11/1974Ouagadougou, Upper VoltaAir Mali
10/20/1977Gillsburg, MississippiL & J Company
12/02/1977Al Bayda, LebanonBalkan Bulgarian AL
12/28/1978Portland, OregonUnited AL
09/04/1982Rio Branco, BrazilCia Bras. de Tratores
07/23/1983Gimli, Manitoba, CanadaAir Canada
09/03/1989Sao Jose do Xingu, BrazilVarig
01/25/1990Cove Neck, New YorkAvianca
09/11/1990Off Newfoundland, CanadaFaucett
06/26/1991Sokotu, NigeriaOkada Air
11/15/1993Kerman, IranMagistralnye Avialinii
09/18/1994Tamanrasset, AlgeriaOriental AL
09/26/1994Vanavera, RussiaCheremshanka AL
09/11/1995Jalalabad, AfghanistanAriana Afghan AL
10/31/1995Piedras Negras, MexicoTACSA
04/05/1996Petropavlovsk, RussiaKrasnoyarskie AV
01/13/1998Tor Kach, PakistanAriana Afghan AL
03/23/2000Kadirana, Sri LankaOMSK
06/11/2002Winnipeg, ManitobaKeystone Air Services
11/11/2002Manila, PhilippinesLaoag Int. Airlines
08/13/2004Cincinnati, OhioAir Tacoma
08/06/2005Off Palermo, ItalyTuninter

Hijacking (resulting in fatalities)

A plane may be hijacked for any number of reasons. For instance, a flight hijacked in 2014 in Ethiopia was hijacked by the copilot who diverted the plane from Rome to Geneva. He was seeking asylum.

The plane landed safely and no one was harmed. Not all hijacked planes are so fortunate. Many hijackings can end in catastrophe especially if the hijackers use weapons or explosives.

07/16/1948Pacific OceanCathay Pacific AW
11/01/1958Nipe Bay, CubaCubana
04/28/1960Calabozo, VenezuelaLinea Aero. Venezolana
1/23/1971Korean Air LinesSokcho, South Korea
12/06/1971Tikaka, SudanSudan AW
05/28/1973Chita, RussiaAeroflot
09/15/1974Phan Rang, VietnamAir Vietnam
05/23/1976Zamboanga, PhilippinesPhilippine AL
06/27/1976Entebbe, UgandaAir France
12/04/1977Kampung Ladang, MalaysiaMalaysia AL
06/14/1985Athens, GreeceTrans World AL
11/24/1985Luqa, MaltaEgyptair
09/16/1986Karachi, PakistanPan American AW
12/25/1986Ay, Saudi ArabiaIraqi AW
07/24/1987Geneva, SwitzerlandAir Afrique
04/05/1988Combi, CyprusKuwait AW
10/02/1990Guangzhou, ChinaXiamen/China SW AL
08/28/1993Khorag, TajikistanTadzhikistan Nat. AL
12/26/1994Algiers, AlgeriaAir France
11/23/1996Moroni, Comoros IslandsEthiopian AL
07/23/1999Tokyo, JapanAll Nippon AW
09/11/2001New York City, New YorkAmerican Airlines
09/11/2001New York City, New YorkUnited Airlines
09/11/2001Washington, D.C.American Airlines
09/11/2001Shanksville, PennsylvaniaUnited Airlines


Modern airplanes are tested and built to withstand accidents caused by lightning. In airplanes that are poorly manufactured however, a lightning hit has the potential to disrupt the sensitive electronic components on board the plane.

These lightning components are vital to the plane’s operation and if they are compromised, the plane may crash.

Since 1938, at least 13 airplane crashes have been attributed to lightning interference.

07/22/1938Stulpica, RomaniaLOT
08/31/1940Lovettsville, VirginiaPenn Central AL
01/17/1951Civitavecchia, ItalyAlitalia
06/26/1959Varese, ItalyTrans World AL
08/29/1960Dakar, SenegalAir France
07/19/1961Azul, BrazilAerolineas Argentinas
12/19/1962Warsaw, PolandLOT
08/12/1963Lyon, FranceAir Inter
12/08/1963Elkton, MarylandPan American AW
12/24/1971Puerto Inca, PeruLineas Aereas Nacionales
05/09/1976Madrid, SpainIran Air Force
02/08/1988Mulheim, GermanyNFD
06/22/2000Shitai, ChinaWuhan AL

Overloading / Improper Loading of Aircraft

A frequent cause of crashes is overloading a plane. Depending on how large the plane is and how much the extra weight is, a plane may have a difficult time remaining in the air.

Overloading also makes it more difficult for planes to takeoff. Under certain weather conditions, even a tiny amount of extra weight can compromise the safety of a plane.

03/14/1942Kunming, ChinaCNAC
01/17/1956Oreway, CanadaQuebecair
06/07/1949San Juan, Puerto RicoStrato Feight
12/08/1956Caqueta, ColombiaAIDA
10/29/1960Toledo, OhioArctic Pacific Air
10/02/1970Silver Plume, ColoradoGolden Eagle Av. Inc.
09/02/1981Paipa, ColombiaTaxi Aereo el Venado
10/30/1981Bafoussam, CameroonCameroon AL
12/22/1991Heidelberg, GermanyClassic Wings
07/20/1992Tbilisi, GeorgiaGeorgian Air
11/11/1992Tver-Kallinen, RussiaAeroflot
08/26/1993Aldan, RussiaSakha AL
08/28/1993Khorag, TajikistanTadzhikistan Nat. AL
12/13/1995Verona, ItalyRomanian Banat Air
12/18/1995Kahengula, AngolaTrans Service Airlift
11/27/1996Abakan, Siberia, RussiaRussian Air Force
11/30/1996Medellin, ColombiaACES
05/26/1998Erdenet, MongoliaMIAT
01/15/2000San Jose, Costa RicaTACA

Pilot Incapacitation

Pilots may become incapacitated due to drugs, alcohol or sudden illness. In any of these scenarios, the goal is to ensure that the co-pilot will be able to take up the slack.

In the event that a co-pilot is not available or is incapacitated, the airplane may be able to rely on autopilot or other emergency maneuvers.

Though rare, pilot incapacitation has occurred at least once a decade since the 1950s.

10/30/1959Waynesborough, VirginiaPiedmont AL
12/14/1962Burbank, CaliforniaFlying Tiger Line
10/06/1965Centennial, WyomingUnited AL
04/22/1966Ardmore, OklahomaAmerican Flyers AL
03/13/1967East London, South AfricaSouth African AW
01/14/1970Mt. Pumacona, PeruFaucett
06/18/1972Staines, Surrey, EnglandBritish European AW
10/13/1972Krasnaya, Polyana, USSRAeroflot
02/09/1982Tokyo, JapanJapan AL
03/31/1995Balotesti, RomaniaTrans. Aeriene Rom.
09/04/2000Near Burketown, AustraliaCentral Air
08/14/2005Grammatikos, GreeceHelios Airways

When pilots are shot by passengers the entire plane may be placed at risk. Depending on whether the pilot can still fly and whether the bullet has damaged the plane, the risk of discharging a firearm while the plane is in the air can be catastrophic. There are at least three recorded instances where pilots have been shot by passengers.

05/07/1964San Ramon, CaliforniaPacific AL
12/04/1977Kampung Ladang, MalaysiaMalaysian AL
12/07/1987San Luis Obispo, CaliforniaPacific Southwest AL