Top 10 Deadliest Pilot Errors in Last Decade

Among the top 10 deadliest air crash happened in last 10 year, 5 were due to pilot error. It is reported that about 75% of the flight crash all around the world is also due to pilot error. Pilots are given better practices to reduce committing mistake, but still it happens. Read my article on 30 ways how airplane crash.

This is a list article of deadliest pilot errors happened between 2001 and 2010.

10. Helios Airways Flight 522 Crash

On 14 Aug 2005, Helios Airways Flight 522 was flying from Larnaca International Airport to Athens International Airport. This Boeing 737-300 flight was crashed into mountain and burst into flame. The aircraft was carrying 115 passengers and a crew of 6. Everyone on board was killed at this disaster.

On: 14 Aug 2005

Survivors: 0

Fatalities: 121

Reason for crash: Depressurization resulted in fuel starvation. The core reason for the crash is pilot error

9. S7 Airlines Flight 778 Crash

When landing plane overshoot the runway; crashed a concrete barricade and caught fire suddenly. Witnesses were saying aircraft was flying at very high speed. The reason for this crash is 100% pilot error and nothing else.

On: 9 Jul 2006

Survivors: 79

Fatalities: 124

Reason for crash: Overshooting the runway

8. Air China Flight 129 Crash

Wikipedia describes the reason for Flight 129 as “Controlled flight into terrain due to ATC error and pilot error”. The flight was travelling from Beijing International Airport to Gimhae International Airport. The aircraft crashed into a hill and suddenly caught fire.

On: 15 Apr 2002

Survivors: 37

Fatalities: 129

Reason for crash: ATC error and pilot error

7. Flash Airlines Flight 604 Crash

The Flight was travelling from Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, Egypt to Charles De Gaulle International Airport Paris, France. The aircraft impacted the water about 15.2 km south of the airport. The wreckage of the plane sank to a depth of 1,000 m.

On: 3 Jan 2004

Survivors: 0

Fatalities: 148

Reason for crash: Instrument malfunctioning and poor crew training

6. EAS Airlines Flight 4226

The Engine of EAS was failed due to overshooting the runway. The flight overshoots the runway and takeoff from a grassy area. The engine intake large amount of dust and this resulted in the failure of the crash. The aero plane descended into the neighboring Gwammaja area of Kano and destroyed several structures also.

On: 4 May 2002

Survivors: 6

Fatalities: 145

Reason for crash: Engine failure due to overshooting the runway

5. Spanair Flight 5022

The reason for this crash is failure to extend flaps and slats for the takeoff. This crash is the deadliest in 2008. The carelessness of the pilot is another reason for the accident. The accident is happened in Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain. It is reported that pilot has delayed the departure because a sensor was reporting excessive temperature in an air intake. Flight crashed just after the takeoff from runway.

On: 20 Aug 2008

Survivors: 18

Fatalities: 154

Reason for crash: Failure to extend flaps and slats for takeoff

4. Mangalore Crash of Air India Express

This 158 people killed crash is the third worst air crash in India’s history. The flight was flying from Dubai International Airport to Mangalore Airport, India carrying 166 people within it including flight crews. Read my article on exact reason for Mangalore crash. The runway was in a hilly area. After touching the runway, the plane overran and crash down the hill at the end of the runway. The runway in Mangalore is a table top runway. This airport is classified as critical airfield which means difficult for takeoff and landing. Only captain is allowed for takeoff and landing in critical airfield. Nine passengers didn’t board the plane so they got their life back without injury or any other loss.

On: 22 May 2010

Fatalities: 158

Survivors: 18

Reason for crash: Pilot did not reduce the speed for landing which may last as a crash. Click here to read exact reason for Mangalore crash.

3. Pulkovo Airlines Flight 612 Crash

This disaster is the best example to know what happen if an airplane flies above the threshold height. This disaster killed 170 people in their travel from Vityazevo Airport to Pulkovo Airport (St. Petersburg). The main reason for the crash is that the aero plane flied through the altitude above which is designed to fly. This cause the aircraft entered in a flat spin, from which it never recovers. At the time of crash weather was very violent. The reason for the crash is suggested as pilot error.

On: 22 Aug 2006

Fatalities: 170

Survivors: No one survived

Reason for crash: Pilot error. Climbing above the maximum altitude than an aircraft can fly

2. TAM Airlines Flight 3054 Crash

In simple words the crash is due to overpassing the runway. Even though aircraft touched the runway normally, it didn’t slow down as usual. Crossing the far end of the runway at around 90 knots, the aero plane crashed at four-storey TAM Express facility with huge fire killing all people on board. The airplane was travelling between Porto Alegre and São Paulo, Brazil, which crashed upon landing during rain in São Paulo. The investigators from Brazilian Public Safety Ministry concluded that the crash is a mistake by pilot. It is reported that runway had not been properly constructed with grooves to drain away excess rainwater. Investigators blame TAM that they fail to properly train their pilot in the time of emergencies.

On: 17 July 2007

Fatalities: 199

Survivors: No one survived

Reason for crash: Pilot error resulted in overshooting the runway.

1. American Airlines Flight 587 Crash

This Crash is listed as second deadliest air crash in last decade. Spreading rumors of terrorist attack all over the world, American Airlines crashed into Belle Harbor neighborhood of Queens in New York City. The flight was on the way from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Las Américas International Airport, Dominican Republic. There are a lot of factors such as date, place, and airline’s name which raised the rumor of terrorist attack. But chances of terrorism were officially ruled out by NTSB. The authorities conclude that the reason for the disaster is the first officer’s overuse of rudder controls. The rudder caused enormous stress which is described as the first officer’s “unnecessary and excessive” rudder inputs. However, this incident is classified as the second most deadly air crash in last decade.

On: 12 Nov 2001

Fatalities: 265

Survivors: No one survived

Reason for crash: Pilot error due to over use of rudder control


What is pilot error?

Top 10 deadliest air crashes in last decade

30 ways how an airplane crash

How Flight Avoid Bird Strike when flying through Bird Populated Region?

Finally Reason for Mangalore Crash is revealed

Top 10 Deadliest Pilot Errors in Last Decade

3 thoughts on “Top 10 Deadliest Pilot Errors in Last Decade”

  1. Mr. Saeed:
    As an engineering student I will suggest to you that on some things, and specifically Airbus accidents, you need to peer beneath the surface. The report by the NTSB on the crash of AA Flight 587, the Airbus A300-600 whose tail fell off after the pilot gently tapped on the rudder pedals after being specifically trained to do so, is very detailed and is a good example of this. It is titled AAR0404 – if you Google it you can download it as a PDF file. Here are just a few words from it:

    "Regarding the rudder travel limiter system, American Airlines’ A300 fleet
    standards manager stated that, before the flight 587 accident, he thought that pilots knew
    “quite a bit” about the rudder limiter system but that, after the accident, it became apparent
    that pilots, as well as the aviation industry as a whole, “didn’t know much about rudder
    limiter systems and in fact possibly had wrong perceptions.” The A300 fleet standards
    manager also stated the following:
    "Most pilots think that a limiter on some system will protect…the pilot from
    exceeding whatever parameter that limiter is limiting. And in this case…and it’s
    not unique to Airbus aircraft…the pilots think that the rudder limiter will protect
    the aircraft structurally, and if it can’t…they think…that there would be a
    limitation or a warning or caution or a note that would indicate…that the rudder
    limiter couldn’t protect [the aircraft] structurally."
    … In addition, the fleet standards manager stated that, before the flight 587 accident,
    he did not think that any pilot would have thought that full rudder could be gained
    from about 1 1/4 inch of pedal movement and 10 pounds of pressure
    (above the breakout force) at an airspeed of 250 knots.

    3.1 Findings

    8. The American Airlines Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering Program ground school
    training encouraged pilots to use rudder to assist with roll control during recovery
    from upsets, including wake turbulence.
    10. Before the flight 587 accident, pilots were not being adequately trained on what effect
    rudder pedal inputs have on the Airbus A300-600 at high airspeeds and how the
    airplane’s rudder travel limiter system operates.
    13. Certification standards are needed to ensure that future airplane designs minimize the
    potential for aircraft-pilot coupling susceptibility and to better protect against high loads in the event of large rudder inputs.
    14. Because of its high sensitivity (that is, light pedal forces and small pedal
    displacements), the Airbus A300-600 rudder control system is susceptible to
    potentially hazardous rudder pedal inputs at higher airspeeds.
    16. There is a widespread misunderstanding among pilots about the degree of structural
    protection that exists when full or abrupt flight control inputs are made at airspeeds
    below the maneuvering speed.

    Airbus has a habit of designing planes with deadly man-machine interface traps, often due to software problems. This is another case in point. Airbus designed a plane where the pilot, by touching the rudder pedals with 10 pounds of pressure more than the 22 pounds it took to activate the system, could tear the rudder off the plane. No sane plane designer would ever do this. No pilot would ever expect someone to build a plane like this. You are an engineering student – go get a scale, put your foot on it, press down with 22 pounds of force, then press harder until it says 32 pounds, and at that point you just killed yourself and everyone else on the plane. You cannot do that on a Boeing airplane.

  2. Thank you John for your response. I really appreciate your critics but basically I am not writing things for a tech geek.
    John was referring this pdf.

    This post was mistakenly titled as Top 10 Deadliest Air Crash in the History. But it was really "…Crashed in last decade". I have just changed the title.

  3. @John

    AH…another Boeing fan. In my opinion, Boeing fans are the worst kind of fans. Instead of trying to learn from an investigation so that such errors may not be repeated and safety of flights increased, all they are concerned with is how Airbus is the Boogeyman out there to kill people.

    "No sane plane designer would ever do this. No pilot would ever expect someone to build a plane like this."

    Pilots are supposed to be trained how to fly and not fly based on 'expectations'.

    "then press harder until it says 32 pounds, and at that point you just killed yourself and everyone else on the plane."

    Thats a total lie. Its not deflecting the rudder to one side alone, as you have put it, that caused the crash but successful rudder reversals. In your analogy, that would amount to jogging on the rudder pedals and applying 32 pounds of forces on alternate pedals. No sane pilot is supposed to that.

    " You cannot do that on a Boeing airplane."

    You CAN. You can tear off your tail whether on a Boeing, an Airbus, a bombardier, an embraer or whatever company's plane you are flying if you put such stupid inputs. After this accident, ALL plane manufacturers issued a warning that rudder reversals can cause structural damage to the plane…all of them.

    The primary party to blame is AA and its pilot training that teaches aggressive use of control surfaces even AFTER Airbus had clearly warned them upon seeing that videos but they took no heed.

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