Fatal Plane Crashes and Significant
Events for the Boeing 747
The following events are those involving at least one passenger death where the aircraft flight had a direct or indirect role. Excluded would be events where the only passengers killed were stowaways, hijackers, or saboteurs. The passenger fatalities in the numbered events may be due to accidents, hijackings, sabotage, or military action. The events that are not numbered may or may not include fatalities, and are included because they meet the criteria of a significant event as defined by AirSafe.com
- 20 November 1974; Lufthansa 747-100; Nairobi, Kenya: The aircraft was not properly configured for takeoff and stalled shortly after becoming airborne, crashing about 3600 feet (1100 meters) beyond the end of the runway. The crash killed 55 of the 140 passengers and 4 of the 17 crew.
9 May 1976; Iranian Air Force 747-100; flight 48; near Madrid, Spain: The aircraft was operating as a military flight from Tehran, Iran to Madrid, Spain and encountered an area of thunderstorms near its destination. The aircraft was apparently struck by lightning, which ignited fuel vapors from a tank in the left wing. The subsequent explosion damaged the wing and eventually led to a major structural failure of the wing. All 10 crew members and seven passengers were killed.
- 27 March 1977; KLM 747-200; Tenerife, Canary Islands: The aircraft had been on a non-scheduled flight from Amsterdam to the Las Palmas airport in the Canary Islands, but had been diverted to Tererife because of a bomb explostion in the passenger terminal in Las Palmas. Because of limited visibility and communications difficulties between air traffic control and the KLM aircraft, the KLM 747 started its takeoff while the Pan Am aircraft was on the same runway. All 234 passengers and 14 crew were killed in the KLM 747. Nine of the 16 crew and 321 of the 380 passengers on the Pan Am flight were killed.
- 27 March 1977;Pan Am 747-100; Flight 1736; Tenerife, Canary Islands: The aircraft had been scheduled to arrive at the Las Palmas airport after a non-scheduled flight from New York's JFK airport, but was diverted to Tenerife after a bomb explosion at the Las Palmas airport. Because of limited visibility and communications difficulties between air traffic control and a KLM 747 aircraft, the KLM 747 started its takeoff and collided with the Pan Am 747 that was taxiing on the same runway. Nine of the 16 crew and 321 of the 380 passengers on the Pan Am flight were killed. All 234 passengers and 14 crew on the KLM 747 were killed.
- 3 November 1977; El Al 747; over Belgrade, Yugoslavia: One passenger died after a decompression event.
- 1 January 1978; Air India 747-200; Bombay, India: The plane crashed in the sea shortly after takeoff, killing all 190 passengers and 23 crew. Flight International magazine states that this accident was due to a failure of an attitude detector.
- 19 November 1980; Korean Air Lines 747-200; Seoul, South Korea: The aircraft undershot its landing and impacted just short of the runway causing severe damage to the landing gear. The aircraft caught fire after it slid to a stop. Six of the 14 crew members and eight of the 198 passengers were killed. Also killed was one person on the ground.
- 11 August 82, Pan Am 747, near Hawaii: The aircraft was en route from Japan to the U.S. with 285 aboard when a bomb exploded under a seat, killing one passenger.
- 16 August 1982; China Airlines 747; near Hong Kong: The aircraft encountered severe turbulence during the flight. Two of the 292 passengers were killed.
- 1 September 1983; Korean Air Lines 747-200; near Sakhalin Island, Soviet Union: The aircraft was shot down by at least one Soviet air to air missile after the 747 had strayed into Soviet airspace. All 240 passengers and 29 crew were killed.
International Committee for the Rescue of KAL 007 Survivors
- 27 November 1983; Avianca 747-200; near Madrid, Spain: The aircraft was approaching the Madrid airport at night when it descended too low and hit the ground. All 20 crew and 161 of the 172 passengers were killed.
- 23 June 1985; Air India 747-200; Atlantic Ocean, near the Irish coast: The flight, which was en route to Bombay from Canada, had a bomb explode on board near the Irish coast. The aircraft broke up in flight and crashed into the sea. All 307 passengers and 22 crew were killed.
- 12 August 1985; Japan Air Lines 747SR; Mt. Ogura, Japan: The aircraft had a sudden decompression that damaged hydraulic systems and the vertical fin. That damage also disabled the flight controls for the rudder and elevator. All 15 crew members and 505 of the 509 passengers were killed.
- 5 September 1986; Pan Am 747; Karachi, Pakistan: Four hijackers attempted to take control of the aircraft while it was on the ground, but the flight crew departed through the cockpit escape hatch. About 16 passengers were killed before the hijacking ended.
- 28 November 1987; South African Airlines 747- 200 Combi; over Indian Ocean: The aircraft crashed during a flight between Taiwan and South Africa apparently due to a fire in the main deck cargo area. All 141 passengers and 19 crew were killed.
- 5 April 1988; Kuwait Airways 747-200 Combi; Cyprus: The aircraft, with about 100 passeners and crew was hijacked on flight from Bhangkok, Thailand to Kuwait. During the 16-day event, two hostages were killed in Cyprus before the hijackers surrendered.
- 21 December 1988; Pan Am 747-100; near Lockerbie, Scotland:
The aircraft was about a half hour into a scheduled flight from London's Heathrow airport to JFK airport in New York when a bomb detonated in the forward cargo compartment.
The explosion led to an in flight breakup of the aircraft.
All 16 crew and 243 passengers perished.
Eleven people on the ground were also killed.
19 February 1989; Flying Tiger Line; N807FT; 747-200F; flight 66; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: The aircraft was on an international cargo flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and crashed shortly before landing. The crew descended below the glide path and crashed into a hill after receiving ambiguous instructions from air traffic control. All four crew members were killed.
- 24 February 1989; United Air Lines 747-100; Flight 811; near Hawaii:
The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Honolulu, HI to Auckland, New Zealand. About 16 minutes after takeoff, when the aircraft was climbing through about 22,000 feet, the forward cargo door on the right side of the aircraft blew out and the resulting explosive decompression led to the loss of parts of the fuselage and the cabin interior, including a number of seats and passengers. Some of the ejected debris damaged the two right side engines, and the crew had to shut them down. The crew was able to return to Honolulu and land about 14 minutes after the decompression. All 18 crew members survived, but nine of the 337 passengers were killed.
Wikipedia Entry for this Accident
- 20 February 1992; Aerolineas Argentinas 747; en route to Los Angeles from Argentina: One passenger died of food poisoning.
4 October 1992; El AL 747-200; Amsterdam, Netherlands: Shortly after departing Amsterdam on a flight to Tel Aviv, the number three engine and pylon separated from the wing and collided with the number engine. This collision also caused the number four engine and pylon to separate. Part of the leading edge of the right wing was damaged, and several other aircraft systems were affected. During an emergency air turnback to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, the crew experienced problems controlling the aircraft. The crew lost control of the aircraft shortly before landing, and the aircraft crashed into an apartment building. All three crew members and one other aircraft occupant were killed, as were 43 people on the ground.
Note: This event did not involve passenger deaths on a passenger flight and is not included in the fatal event rate calculations. This event is included because of the significant number of deaths on the ground.
- 11 December 1994; Philippine Airlines 747-200; Pacific Ocean: A small bomb detonated under a seat, killing one of the 287 passengers. The person who planted the bomb boarded the plane on the first leg from Manila to Cebu, and left the flight at Cebu. The bomb exploded en route to Tokyo, and the crew diverted to Okinawa.
- 17 July 1996; TWA 747-100; Flight 800; Atlantic Ocean near Long Island, NY:
The aircraft was on a flight from JFK airport in New York to Paris and had a catastrophic in flight breakup shortly after departure.
All 18 crew and 212 passengers perished.
NTSB Abstract of Full Report
NTSB Full Report
Additional NTSB Background Information
- 5 September 1996; Air France 747-400; near Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: Severe turbulence associated with a weather front seriously injured three of the 206 passengers. One of the three passengers later died of injuries caused by an in flight entertainment screen.
- 12 November 1996; Saudi Arabian Airlines 747-100; near New Delhi, India: The departing 747 had a midair collision with an inbound Kazakhstan Air Lines Ilyushin 76 cargo jet about seven minutes after the 747 had departed New Delhi. The collision occurred near Charkhi Dadri, about 60 miles (96 km) west of New Delhi. All 23 crew members and 289 passengers on the 747 were killed. The 10 crew members and 27 passengers on the Ilyushin were also killed.
- 6 August 1997; Korean Air 747-300; Agana, Guam USA:
The aircraft crashed about three miles (4.8 km) short of the runway during a night time approach in heavy rain.
Twenty one of the 23 crew members and 207 of the 231 passengers were killed.
NTSB Accident Synopsis
NTSB Accident Report
Additional NTSB Background Information
- 28 December 1997; United Air Lines 747-100; Flight 826; over Pacific Ocean near Japan: The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Tokyo, Japan to Honolulu, HI and encountered severe turbulence during cruise about two hours after departing Japan. The crew returned to Tokyo without further incident. One of the 346 passengers was killed. None of the 23 crew members were killed but three sustained serious injuries.
- 4 January 1998; Olympic Airways 747; over Atlantic Ocean:
Prior to the flight from Athens to New York, a passenger who had asthma and a history of sensitivity to secondhand smoke requested seating in the non-smoking area of the aircraft. Once onboard, the passenger's family discovered that their assigned seats were three rows ahead of the economy class smoking section. This smoking section was not partitioned off from the non-smoking section. Prior to takeoff and during the flight, one of the passenger's family members made three requests of the cabin crew to switch seats, but the cabin crew did not arrange for a switch into one of the 11 available unoccupied seats on the aircraft. Several hours into the flight, the passenger suffered a reaction to the ambient smoke and died.
A U.S. District Court determined that exposure to ambient second-hand smoke was the primary cause of the passenger's death. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a decision made on 24 February 2004 (case 02-1348), held that this event constituted an accident under Article 17 of the Warsaw Convention, an international treaty that among other things defines an accident as something that is an unexpected or unusual event or happening that is external to the passenger.” There were 411 passengers on the flight.
Fatal Events Since 1970 for Olympic Airways
U.S. Court of Appeals case 00-17509, 12 December 2002
- 31 October 2000; Singapore Airlines 747-400; Taipei, Taiwan:
The aircraft crashed and burned shortly after taking off from Taipei on a scheduled flight to Los Angeles. The aircraft reportedly attempted to take off on a runway that was undergoing repairs and struck construction equipment on the runway. There was rain and wind in the area from an approaching typhoon at the time of the crash. There were 79 fatalities among the 159 passengers and four fatalities among the 20 crew members on the aircraft.
21 November 2001; MK Airlines; 9G-MKI; 747-200F; Port Harcourt, Nigeria: The aircraft was on an international cargo flight from Luxembourg to Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and crashed about 700 meters short of the runway. One of the 13 crew members were killed.
- 25 May 2002; China Airlines 747-200; near the Penghu Islands, Taiwan:
The aircraft crashed into the sea about 20 minutes into a scheduled flight from Taipei to Hong Kong.
The impact area was in the Taiwan Straits near the Penghu Islands about 75 km (47 mi) from the coast of Taiwan.
Weather and flight conditions were normal, and no distress signal or other communication was received prior to the crash.
The accident investigation concluded that the in-flight breakup was due to a structural failure in the aft lower lobe section of the fuselage.
The investigation attributed this failure to an inadequate repair of tail strike damage that was sustained in 1980.
All 19 crew members and 206 passengers were killed.
The accident aircraft was the last 747-200 in passenger service with China Airlines and was to be sold to another carrier next month. According to Boeing, the aircraft was delivered to China Airlines in July 1979 and had accumulated approximately 21,180 landings and 64,394 flight hours. This nearly 22-year old aircraft was newer than similar models in the fleets of U.S. airlines. According to the FAA, the average age of Boeing 747-200 and 747-300 models in U.S. airline fleets at the time of this event was 24 years.
There have been several fatal events involving in-flight breakups, including the 1996 event involving TWA Flight 800 and a November 2001 fatal event involving an American Airlines Airbus A300 over New York City.
14 October 2004; MK Airlines; 9G-MKJ; 747-200F; Halifax, Canada: The aircraft was on an international cargo flight from Halifax, Canada to Zaragoza, Spain. Due to incorrect thrust settings used during takeoff, the aircraft was not able to generate enough airspeed to remain airborne and crashed about 300 meters beyond the end of the runway. All seven crew members were killed.
Previous in-flight breakups involving jet airliners have been due to varied causes, including a fuel tank explosion, severe weather or other atmospheric phenomena, bombs, missiles, and midair collisions.
Fatal China Airlines Events
Fatal Events for Airlines of Asia
8 September 2005; Saudi Arabian Airlines 747-300; Colombo, Sri Lanka:
While taxiing for takeoff on an international flight from Colombo to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, air traffic controllers received an anonymous telephone call concerning a possible bomb on the aircraft. The crew was informed about this call and elected to perform an emergency evacuation. As a result of the evacuation, there were 62 injuries among the 430 passengers and 22 crew members. One of the passengers died as a result of injuries received during the evacuation, and 19 passengers were hospitalized. No explosive devices were found after a search of the aircraft.
Fatal Saudi Arabian Airlines Events
Fatal Events for Airlines of Africa and the Middle East
7 July 2008; Kalitta Air; 747-200F; N714CK; Bogota, Colombia: The aircraft was on an international cargo flight from Bogota, Colombia to Miami, Fl, and crashed shortly after takeoff about 8 km (5 mi) from the airport. The aircraft crashed into a farm, and although all eight crew members survived, three people on the ground were killed.
While this plane crash resulted in several fatalities, it is not a fatal event as defined by AirSafe.com.
3 September 2010; United Parcel Service (UPS); N571UP; 747-400F; flight 6; Dubai, United Arab Emirates: The aircraft was on an international cargo flight from Dubai, UAE to Colonge, Germany, and crashed shortly after takeoff about 10 km (6.2 mi) north of the airport. The two crew members were killed. The only previous fatal crash of a 747-400 was a 2000 crash of a Singapore Airlines in Taipei, Taiwan.
While this plane crash resulted in several fatalities, it is not a fatal event as defined by AirSafe.com.
28 July 2011; Asiana Airlines; 747-400F; HL7604; flight 991; near Jeju, South Korea: The aircraft was on an international cargo flight from Seoul, South Korea, to Shanghai, China. About an hour after takeoff, the crew reported on onboard fire and diverted toward Jeju, South Korea. Both pilots were killed in the crash.
While this airliner accident resulted in fatalities, it was a cargo flight and is not counted as a fatal event as defined by AirSafe.com
29 April 2013; National Airlines 747-400; N949CA; Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan: The aircraft had just departed on a cargo flight to Dubai, UAE when the aircraft entered a stall and crashed near the end of the runway. At one point, the aircraft had rolled to the right in excess of 45 degrees. Although the crew was able to put the wings more or less level, the aircraft impacted the ground at a high vertical speed, causing an explosion and fire. All seven crew members were killed.