About one in 10 Americans is afraid of flying, and perhaps that’s not surprising when you consider the air disasters that we've witnessed in the past 40 years. Most recently, the world has been awaiting news of the fate of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, which departed from Kuala Lumpur on March 8 and never reached its intended destination (Beijing, China). It’s thought to have found its fate in the southern Indian Ocean, with 239 passengers unaccounted for. Experts from around the world have joined the search for the aircraft.
Despite the major disasters that have occurred, air travel is generally considered to be very safe. In the case of an air crash, it’s more likely these days that the crew and passengers will survive than die, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. MIT Professor Arnold Barnett told ABC News in 2011 that your chances of being killed in an air disaster in the US is around one in 14 million – meaning you could fly every day for 38,000 years before being in a fatal air crash.
What’s more, the International Air Transport Association, based in Montreal, found that every day in 2012, about 100,000 flights safely made it to their destination – making it the safest year of air travel ever recorded. They reported that Africa is the geographical location with the highest risk of air disasters, with Latin American coming in a distant second.
We've found the 10 biggest air disasters of all time and recorded all the important details - including how air travel changed forever in the aftermath. These 10 big air disasters were all accidental and all occurred among commercial aircraft carrying civilian passengers.
10 Air New Zealand – 257 People Died
9 Nigeria Airways – 261 People Died
8 China Airlines – 264 People Died
7 American Airlines – 265 People Died
6 American Airlines – 275 People Died
5 Saudia – 301 People Died
4 Turkish Airlines – 346 People Died
3 Saudi Arabian Airlines & Kazakhstan Airlines – 349 People Died
2 Japan Airlines – 520 People Died
1 KLM and Pan Am – 583 People Died
In March 1977, a bomb went off at Gran Canaria Airport, which meant that both KLM flight 4805 and Pan Am flight 1736 diverted to Los Rodeos Airport. However, a series of miscommunications coupled with dense fog, resulted in the two Boeing 747s colliding on the runway. On the KLM flight, all 248 people died, and 296 of the 335 people aboard the Pan Am flight also died. After this big disaster, changes were made to air traffic control phraseology and experienced flight crews were given greater opportunities to challenge the pilots if they didn't think something was correct.
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