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6 worst airplane accidents of 2014

2014 is truly a tragic and disastrous year for the aviation world. It has only been half a year and we already have a total of eight noted accidents involving airplanes, but not all of them had resulted in fatalaties.

For most of the accidents, many precious lives were taken away and plenty of tears were shed. Families, friends and all the people from around the world grieved and mourned for the loss of their loved ones. The impact was felt even more so in Malaysia, as our national charter Malaysian Airlines had faced, not one, but two tragedies this year, and the worst ever in their history of operations and in the history of Malaysia’s overall tragedies.

But with just another plane reported missing then alleged to have crashed yesterday (Air Algérie), we look back at this year’s worst aviation disasters and hope that no more shall be in store for the remaining of the year.

Our deepest sympathies and thoughts go out to the victims and their families of the following flight tragedies:

1. Nepal Airlines Flight 183 – 16 February

15 passengers including 3 crew members were boarded on the plane that was scheduled to travel from Pokhara Airport to Jumla Airport in Nepal until it accidently crashed into the jungle near Dhikura VDC, about 74km away from Pokhara, Nepal and killed all the passengers on board.

When the rescue and recovery teams reached the crash site, they found that the bodies of all 18 passengers on board were spread across the hill and none of them had survived the crash. 

It was found that the cause of the crash was because the plane had attempted to divert to Bhairahawa Airport due to murky weather conditions and eventually crashed into a hill and exploded.

2. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 – 8 March

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that was scheduled to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members had at first, mysteriously disappeared, after losing contact with air traffic control less than an hour after takeoff.

It had resulted in the most expensive and largest multinational search effort in history (with the search still ongoing up to now). 

The flight had apparently taken off at 1.20am on 8 March and lost touch with the Subang Air traffic Control at 2.40am.

With the world dumbfounded on where the plane could be, the international search began from the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea, where the plane’s signal was lost on secondary radar. The search was soon extended to the Strait of Malacca and Andaman Sea.

According to military radar data, investigators concluded that the flight had diverted from its original course and headed west across the Malay Peninsula. The focus of the search then shifted to the southern part of the Indian Ocean, west of Australia.

Up to now, nobody knows the cause of the flight disappearance and it still remains a mystery to the world. There has been no confirmation of any flight debris and no crash site has been found, however, the flight was believed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean off the West Australian Coast. 

Because of that, many unofficial theories of the vanished flight arisen such as hijacking, shoot-down theory, black hole or meteor strike, alien abduction and others. However, many of these theories has been rejected.

On 24 March, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had announced that British investigators from its Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) have concluded that the flight of Malaysian Airlines MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

An infographic on MH370.

PM Najib Razak’s announcement that “MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

3. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 – 17 July

Another Malaysian airplane, MH17 which was scheduled to fly from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over Eastern Ukraine which ended up killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.

The crash occurred in the conflict zone of the ongoing conflict between the Ukrainian government and the pro-Russian separatists with the area controlled by the pro-Russian militant group. Both sides had accused each other of shooting down the plane while denying their own responsibility.

However, due to several unofficial proof such as the path of the missile, shrapnel patterns in the wreckage, voice print analysis, photos and other data, it was indicated  that Russian-backed separatists had indeed fired the missile.

With a total of 298 deaths, MH17 serves as the deadliest aviation incident in the history of Malaysia Airlines and the deadliest airliner shootdown in history.

Passengers who were onboard MH17.

An infographic on the MH17 incident.

Netherlands mourns for the first batch of MH17 victims.

4. Haris Suleman – 22 July 

17 year-old American, Haris Suleman attempted to circumnavigate the world in 30 days together with his father Babar Suleman in order to set a record for an all-around the world flight.

However, he was killed when his plane crashed into the Pacific ocean between American Samoa and Honolulu with his father reported to have been missing.

The rescue team recoverd Haris’ body shortly after the crash and are still searching for his father, Babar Suleman that’s no where to be found and also the remaining plane wreckage.

5. TransAsia Airways Flight 222 – 23 July

58 passengers boarded the flight that was supposed to travel from Kaohsiung to Penghu which crashed during a landing attempt at Magong, Penghu Island and claimed 49 lives with the remaining 9 badly injured. 

The flight was scheduled to depart at 1600 (Taiwan time) but was delayed around 1 hour and 40 minutes due to Typhoon Matmo. When the flight attempted to make its emergency landing, it failed.

Then, it tried for another attempt which resulted in a bad crash near Huxi village causing a fire involving two homes. The accident was reported to have been caused by the strong winds of Typhoon Matmo which passed over Taiwan and Penghu earlier that day.

The unfortunate crash was Taiwan's first fatal air accident in 12 years.

6. Air Algérie Flight 5017 – 24 July

Aircraft McDonnell Douglas MD-83 operated by Air Algérie disappearead from the radar approximately 50 minutes after it took off from Burkina Faso flying towards Algiers, Algeria.

The plane that disappeared in Northern Mali carried 110 passengers and 6 crew members and had been reportedly confirmed by an unidentified Algerian officer that it had crashed near Tilemsi, killing all those on board.

French forces reported that the wreckage of the plane was found in an area between Gao and Kidal, a desert region that is difficult to access. 

Malian President said that more wreckage has been found in the country's northern desert, between Aguelhoc and Kidal.

The route that  Flight 5017 used was considered dangerous as it was passing over Mali, because the location has numerous armed surface-to-air missiles due to local conflicts.

Air Algérie Flight 5017 marked the third airplane accident in a one-week span, following the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and the crash of TransAsia Airways Flight 222.

An infographic detailing Air Algérie Flight 5017

*The other two airplane incidents of 2014

1. Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702 that was hijacked on 17 February by the co-pilot while en route from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Rome, Italy, but it landed safely at Geneva, Switzerland. All 202 passengers and crew aboard were unharmed.

2. Skyward International Aviation Fokker 50 crashed on 2 July during its takeoff from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya, en route to Mogadishu International Airport in Somalia, killing all 4 crew members on board.

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