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.

09/03/1929 Mt. Taylor, New Mexico Trans Con. Air Transport
06/13/1947 Leesburg, Virginia Pen Central Air
11/11/1949 Arlington, Virginia Eastern / U.S. AF
04/14/1958 Castel de Fels, Spain Aviaco
07/21/1961 Shemya, Alaska Alaska AL
02/08/1965 New York, New York Eastern AL
01/14/1970 Mt. Pumacona, Peru Faucett
02/06/1970 Samarkand, USSR Aeroflot
12/20/1972 Chicago, Illinois Delta/North Central
09/09/1976 Adler, Russia Aeroflot / Aeroflot
09/10/1976 Gaj, Yugoslavia Inex / British AW
08/11/1979 Dneprodzerzhinsk, USSR Aeroflot
02/01/1991 Los Angeles, California USAir/Skywest
05/19/1993 Medellin, Colombia SAM
11/07/1996 Lagos, Nigeria Aviation Dev. Corp.
09/26/1997 Buah Nabar, IndonesiaGaruda Indonesian AL
07/01/2002 Uberlinger, Germany Bashkirian 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.

09/03/1929 Mt. Taylor, New Mexico Trans Con. Air Transport
06/13/1947 Leesburg, Virginia Pen Central Air
11/11/1949 Arlington, Virginia Eastern / U.S. AF
04/14/1958 Castel de Fels, Spain Aviaco
07/21/1961 Shemya, Alaska Alaska AL
02/08/1965 New York, New York Eastern AL
01/14/1970 Mt. Pumacona, Peru Faucett
02/06/1970 Samarkand, USSR Aeroflot
12/20/1972 Chicago, Illinois Delta/North Central
09/09/1976 Adler, Russia Aeroflot / Aeroflot
09/10/1976 Gaj, Yugoslavia Inex / British AW
08/11/1979 Dneprodzerzhinsk, USSR Aeroflot
02/01/1991 Los Angeles, California USAir/Skywest
05/19/1993 Medellin, Colombia SAM
11/07/1996 Lagos, Nigeria Aviation Dev. Corp.
09/26/1997 Buah Nabar, IndonesiaGaruda Indonesian AL
07/01/2002 Uberlinger, Germany Bashkirian 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.

07/09/1945 Florence, South Carolina Eastern AL
06/17/1948 Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania United AL
08/02/1949 Jaquirana, Brazil Varig
01/09/1964 Zarate, Argentina Aero Litoral Argentina
07/09/1964 Parrottsville, Tennessee United AL
07/26/1969 Biskra, Algeria Air Algerie
08/14/1972 Konigs, East Germany Interflug
08/31/1972 Magnitogorsk, Russia Aeroflot
07/11/1973 Paris, Orly, France Varig
11/03/1973 Boston, Massachusetts Pan American
11/26/1979 Ta’if, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Pakistan Inter. AL
08/19/1980 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian AL
12/24/1982 Guangzhou, China CAAC
06/02/1983 Covington, Kentucky Air Canada
07/02/1986 Syktyvar, Russia Aeroflot
05/09/1987 Warsaw, Poland LOT
11/28/1987 Mauritius, Indian Ocean South African Airways
01/13/1990 Pervouralsk, Russia Aeroflot
07/12/1995 Gumey, New Guinea Milne Bay Air
05/11/1996 Everglades, Florida ValuJet
09/02/1998 Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia Swissair
05/07/2002 Off Dalian, China China 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.

03/31/1933 Bazaar, Kansas Trans Cont. & Western AW
10/24/1947 Bryce Canyon, Utah United AL
11/11/1947 Gallup, New Mexico American AL
06/17/1948 Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania United AL
08/29/1948 Winona, Minnesota Northwest Orient AL
05/02/1953 Jalalogori, India British Overseas AW
01/10/1954 Elba, Italy British Overseas AW
04/08/1954 Off Stromboli, Italy Trans Canada AL
02/05/1955 Calabar, Nigeria West African AW
09/29/1959 Buffalo, Texas Braniff AL
03/17/1960 Tell City, Indiana Northwest Orient AL
07/05/1970 Toronto, Canada Air Canada
07/06/1982 Moscow, Russia Aeroflot
03/03/1991 Colorado Springs, Colorado United Airlines
07/30/1992 New York, New York Trans World Airlines
04/06/1993 Over the Pacific Ocean China Eastern Airlines
09/08/1994 Aliquippa, Pennsylvania US Air
12/05/1997 Irkutsk, Russia Russian 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.

03/28/1933 Dixmude, Belgium Imperial AW
10/10/1933 Chesterton, Indiana United AL
05/07/1949 Sibuyan Sea, Philippines Phillipine AL
09/09/1949 Sault-aux-Cochons, Canada Canadian Pacific AL
08/12/1952 Palmeria de Goias, Brazil Trans Aero Nac.
04/11/1955 Great Natuna Island, Sarawak Air India
11/01/1955 Longmont, Colorado United AL
07/25/1957 Daggett, California Western AL
04/17/1959 Puerto Kino,Mexico Tigres Voladores
09/06/1959 Poza Rica, Mexico Mexicana
11/16/1959 Gulf of Mexico National AL
01/06/1960 Bolivia, North Carolina National AL
05/10/1961 In Amenas, Libya Air France
05/22/1962 Unionville, Missouri Continental AL
12/08/1964 Tripuani, Bolivia Aerolineas Abaroa
07/08/1965 Dog Creek, British Columbia Canadian Pacific AL
11/22/1966 Aden, Yemen Aden AW
02/09/1967 Mexico City, Mexico Cubana
10/12/1967 Rhodes, Greece British European AW
12/22/1969 Nha Trang, Vietnam Air Vietnam
02/21/1970 Zurich, Switzerland Swissair
04/21/1970 Manila, Philippines Philippine AL
11/21/1971 Penhu Island, Taiwan China AL
01/26/1972 Hermsdorf, Czechoslovakia JAT
06/15/1972 Pleiku, Vietnam Cathay Pacific AW
03/19/1973 Ben Me Thout, South Vietnam Air Vietnam
04/21/1973 Patabangan, Philippines Philippine AL
12/17/1973 Rome, Italy Pan American AW
09/08/1974 Ionian Sea, Greece Trans World AL
01/01/1976 Al Qaysumah, Saudi Arabia Middle East AL
10/06/1976 Bridgetown, Barbados Cubana
02/19/1979 Barentu, Ethiopia Ethiopian Airlines
06/27/1980 Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy Itavia
12/21/1980 Rio Hacha, Colombia Trans. Aereos del Caribe
09/23/1983 Mina Jebel Ali, UAE Gulf Air
06/23/1985 Atlantic Ocean, Ireland Air India
04/02/1986 Athens, Greece Trans World AL
05/03/1986 Colombo, Sri Lanka Air Lanka
11/29/1987 Andaman Sea Korean AL
03/01/1988 Johannesberg, South Africa Comair
12/21/1988 Lockerbie, Scotland Pan American AW
09/19/1989 Bilma, Niger Union des Trans. Aeriens
11/27/1989 Bogota, Colombia Avianca
07/19/1994 Colon, Panama Alas Chiricanas
12/11/1994 Pacific Ocean, Okinawa Philippine AL
07/09/1997 Suzano, Brazil TAM
03/03/2001 Bangkok, Thailand Thai Airways
05/07/2002 Off Dalian, China China Northern Airlines
08/24/2004 Toula, Russia Volga-Avia Express
08/24/2004 Rostov-on-Don, Russia Sibir 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.

05/06/1936 Macon, Missouri Transcon. & West. Air
12/31/1935 Alexandria, Egypt Imperial AW
01/14/1936 Goodwin, Arkansas American AL
07/02/1937 Lae, New Guinea Purdue Res. Found.
11/28/1938 Off Point Reyes, Calif. United Air Lines
02/09/1943 Gander, Newfoundland British Overseas AW
12/26/1946 Michigan City, Michigan American AL
01/05/1947 Carmel, New Jersey Nationwide Air Trans.
01/11/1947 Lympne, England BOAC
01/07/1948 Savannah, Georgia Coastal Air Lines
01/30/1948 Near Bermuda British So. Am. AW
12/28/1948 San Juan, Puerto Rico Airborne Transport
08/15/1949 Lurga Point, Ireland Transocean Air Lines
07/28/1950 Porte Alegre, Brazil Penair do Brasil
04/30/1952 Delhi, India Deccan, AW
06/19/1954 Folkestone, England Swissair
12/22/1954 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Johnson Flying Service
04/04/1967 Stockport, England British Midland AW
05/02/1970 St. Croix, Virgin Islands Antillian AL
08/11/1974 Ouagadougou, Upper Volta Air Mali
10/20/1977 Gillsburg, Mississippi L & J Company
12/02/1977 Al Bayda, Lebanon Balkan Bulgarian AL
12/28/1978 Portland, Oregon United AL
09/04/1982 Rio Branco, Brazil Cia Bras. de Tratores
07/23/1983 Gimli, Manitoba, Canada Air Canada
09/03/1989 Sao Jose do Xingu, Brazil Varig
01/25/1990 Cove Neck, New York Avianca
09/11/1990 Off Newfoundland, Canada Faucett
06/26/1991 Sokotu, Nigeria Okada Air
11/15/1993 Kerman, Iran Magistralnye Avialinii
09/18/1994 Tamanrasset, Algeria Oriental AL
09/26/1994 Vanavera, Russia Cheremshanka AL
09/11/1995 Jalalabad, Afghanistan Ariana Afghan AL
10/31/1995 Piedras Negras, Mexico TACSA
04/05/1996 Petropavlovsk, Russia Krasnoyarskie AV
01/13/1998 Tor Kach, Pakistan Ariana Afghan AL
03/23/2000 Kadirana, Sri Lanka OMSK
06/11/2002 Winnipeg, Manitoba Keystone Air Services
11/11/2002 Manila, Philippines Laoag Int. Airlines
08/13/2004 Cincinnati, Ohio Air Tacoma
08/06/2005 Off Palermo, Italy Tuninter

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.

07/16/1948 Pacific Ocean Cathay Pacific AW
11/01/1958 Nipe Bay, Cuba Cubana
04/28/1960 Calabozo, Venezuela Linea Aero. Venezolana
1/23/1971 Korean Air Lines Sokcho, South Korea
12/06/1971 Tikaka, Sudan Sudan AW
05/28/1973 Chita, Russia Aeroflot
09/15/1974 Phan Rang, Vietnam Air Vietnam
05/23/1976 Zamboanga, Philippines Philippine AL
06/27/1976 Entebbe, Uganda Air France
12/04/1977 Kampung Ladang, Malaysia Malaysia AL
06/14/1985 Athens, Greece Trans World AL
11/24/1985 Luqa, Malta Egyptair
09/16/1986 Karachi, Pakistan Pan American AW
12/25/1986 Ay, Saudi Arabia Iraqi AW
07/24/1987 Geneva, Switzerland Air Afrique
04/05/1988 Combi, Cyprus Kuwait AW
10/02/1990 Guangzhou, China Xiamen/China SW AL
08/28/1993 Khorag, Tajikistan Tadzhikistan Nat. AL
12/26/1994 Algiers, Algeria Air France
11/23/1996 Moroni, Comoros Islands Ethiopian AL
07/23/1999 Tokyo, Japan All Nippon AW
09/11/2001 New York City, New York American Airlines
09/11/2001 New York City, New York United Airlines
09/11/2001 Washington, D.C. American Airlines
09/11/2001 Shanksville, Pennsylvania United 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.

07/22/1938 Stulpica, Romania LOT
08/31/1940 Lovettsville, Virginia Penn Central AL
01/17/1951 Civitavecchia, Italy Alitalia
06/26/1959 Varese, Italy Trans World AL
08/29/1960 Dakar, Senegal Air France
07/19/1961 Azul, Brazil Aerolineas Argentinas
12/19/1962 Warsaw, Poland LOT
08/12/1963 Lyon, France Air Inter
12/08/1963 Elkton, Maryland Pan American AW
12/24/1971 Puerto Inca, Peru Lineas Aereas Nacionales
05/09/1976 Madrid, Spain Iran Air Force
02/08/1988 Mulheim, Germany NFD
06/22/2000 Shitai, China Wuhan 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.

03/14/1942 Kunming, China CNAC
01/17/1956 Oreway, Canada Quebecair
06/07/1949 San Juan, Puerto Rico Strato Feight
12/08/1956 Caqueta, Colombia AIDA
10/29/1960 Toledo, Ohio Arctic Pacific Air
10/02/1970 Silver Plume, Colorado Golden Eagle Av. Inc.
09/02/1981 Paipa, Colombia Taxi Aereo el Venado
10/30/1981 Bafoussam, Cameroon Cameroon AL
12/22/1991 Heidelberg, Germany Classic Wings
07/20/1992 Tbilisi, Georgia Georgian Air
11/11/1992 Tver-Kallinen, Russia Aeroflot
08/26/1993 Aldan, Russia Sakha AL
08/28/1993 Khorag, Tajikistan Tadzhikistan Nat. AL
12/13/1995 Verona, Italy Romanian Banat Air
12/18/1995 Kahengula, Angola Trans Service Airlift
11/27/1996 Abakan, Siberia, Russia Russian Air Force
11/30/1996 Medellin, Colombia ACES
05/26/1998 Erdenet, Mongolia MIAT
01/15/2000 San Jose, Costa Rica TACA

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.

10/30/1959 Waynesborough, Virginia Piedmont AL
12/14/1962 Burbank, California Flying Tiger Line
10/06/1965 Centennial, Wyoming United AL
04/22/1966 Ardmore, Oklahoma American Flyers AL
03/13/1967 East London, South Africa South African AW
01/14/1970 Mt. Pumacona, Peru Faucett
06/18/1972 Staines, Surrey, England British European AW
10/13/1972 Krasnaya, Polyana, USSR Aeroflot
02/09/1982 Tokyo, Japan Japan AL
03/31/1995 Balotesti, Romania Trans. Aeriene Rom.
09/04/2000 Near Burketown, Australia Central Air
08/14/2005 Grammatikos, Greece Helios 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.

05/07/1964 San Ramon, California Pacific AL
12/04/1977 Kampung Ladang, Malaysia Malaysian AL
12/07/1987 San Luis Obispo, California Pacific Southwest AL