The World’s worst mid-air collisions
While you’d imagine that with an almost limitless sky, collisions between aircraft should be almost impossible, the reality is that nothing is shorter than a straight line, and as such the skies are filled with a sort of invisible highways, pre-established flight paths between airports that all aircraft have to follow to get from point A to B in the most efficient, quick manner, this is why the following accidents managed to take place:
Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision
On 12 November 1996 over the village of Charkhi Dadri, to the west of New Delhi, India, two commercial aircraft, Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 763, a
Boeing 747-100B, and Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907, a Ilyushin Il-76TD, collided in the approach path of Delhi’s airport, a narrow flight path used to both departures and arrivals, where a combination of pilot error on behalf of the Kazakh aircraft, lack of a modern radar in Delhi, and the airports extremely congested approach path lead to the loss of 349 people on board both planes, becoming the third deadliest aviation accident in history.
Dniprodzerzhynsk mid-air collision
On 11 August 1979 over Ukraine, near the city formerly named Dniprodzerzhynsk, two Tupolev Tu-134A’s on scheduled domestic passenger flights, and both operated by Aeroflot, Aeroflot 65816 and Aeroflot 65735, collided while on cruise flight after an overworked and understaffed air traffic control made a series of communication and direction mistakes, ultimately culminating in a break down of communication and the subsequent crash, killing all 178 people on board both airliners.
Zagreb mid-air collision
On 10 September 1976, British Airways Flight 476, a Hawker Siddeley Trident, collided mid-air near Zagreb, Yugoslavia (now Croatia), with Inex-Adria Aviopromet Flight 550, a Douglas DC-9. The collision was the result of a procedural error on the part of Zagreb air traffic controllers, a combination of bad coordination and use of improper radio language, leading to the loss of all 176 people on board both planes.
All Nippon Airways Flight 58
On 30 July 1971, a Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) Mitsubishi F-86F Sabre fighter jet collided with an All Nippon Airways Boeing 727-200 airliner, causing both aircraft to crash. All 162 occupants of the airliner were killed, while the Sabre pilot, a trainee with the JASDF, ejected before the collision and survived. The crash occurred after the fighter pilot, Technical Sergeant Yoshimi Ichikawa , which was practicing air combat maneuvers with his instructor in another Sabre, failed to monitor the air traffic around him, until his instructor realized the impending collision and ordered him to break away from the airliner, an order that came too late.
Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 1103
On 22 December 1992, a Libyan Arab Airlines Boeing 727-200 took off from Benina International Airport near Benghazi on a domestic flight to Tripoli International Airport. At an altitude of 3,500 ft (1,067 m) during the aircraft’s approach to Tripoli airport, the aircraft disintegrated after allegely colliding with a Libyan Air Force’s MiG-23, resulting in the death of all 157 passengers and crew on the airliner, while the 2-man crew of the MiG ejected.
This one, while still being classified as a mid-air collision, but after the fall of Gaddafi, the military pilot involved claims the airliner was ordered shot down by Gaddafi himself, in an attempt to show the west the consequences of the embargo imposed on Libya after the bombing of Pan Am flight 103.
Gol Transportes Aéreos Flight 1907
On 29 September 2006, a Gol Transportes Aeréos Boeing 737-800 collided in midair with an Embraer Legacy 600 business jet over the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. All 154 passengers and crew aboard the Boeing 737 died when the aircraft broke up in midair and crashed into an area of dense jungle, while the Embraer Legacy, despite sustaining serious damage to its left wing and tail, landed safely with its seven occupants uninjured. The accident was caused by errors committed both by air traffic controllers, further compounded by lack of radar coverage over the area of collision, and by the American pilots on the delivery flight of the Embraer Legacy, whom failed to turn on their anti-collision system or TCAS, being unfamiliar with their brand-new aircraft.