Revealed: The worst blunders made by pilots before a crash

By Annabel Fenwick Elliott

On December 29, 1972, an Eastern Airlines Tristar jet crashed into the Florida Everglades, pictured, killing 101 on board, including the captain. Photo / AP
On December 29, 1972, an Eastern Airlines Tristar jet crashed into the Florida Everglades, pictured, killing 101 on board, including the captain. Photo / AP

Every time we board a plane, we put our lives in the hands of the pilot.

A scary thought, considering the vast majority of crashes occur due to human error rather than any other factor.

And while these incidents are still incredibly rare - around one in 11 million - there have been tragic cases of preventable crashes caused by major blunders on the part of the pilot in the past.

Here, MailOnline has compiled a compendium of the worst mistakes ever made by pilots that have led to a plane crash.

Aeroflot Flight 593, 1994

Perhaps the most ludicrous action of all was that of relief pilot - second in command to the co-pilot - Yaroslav Kudrinsky, who let his children play with the controls.

The fateful crash occurred on March 23, 1994, during an Aeroflot flight travelling from Moscow to Kong Kong. The Airbus A310 went down in Siberia, killing all 75 on board.

As was later discovered by cockpit recordings, Mr Kudrinsky invited his two children into the cockpit in the middle of the night - Yana, 12, and Eldar, 15.

Both were allowed to sit in the captain's chair and play with the controls, which should have been disabled as the plane was in autopilot mode.

But when Eldar held the control column down for a full 30 seconds, it forced the system back into manual.

By the time the captain and co-pilot had got back into their seats and seized the controls, it was too late. The plane crashed into the mountains below, killing everyone onboard.

TransAsia Airways Flight 235, 2015

Rescue teams work to free passengers from a TransAsia Airways ATR 72-600 turboprop airplane that crashed into the Keelung River on February, 2015. Photo / Getty Images
Rescue teams work to free passengers from a TransAsia Airways ATR 72-600 turboprop airplane that crashed into the Keelung River on February, 2015. Photo / Getty Images

"Wow, pulled back the wrong side throttle".

These were among the last words from the pilot of TransAsia flight 235 on February 4, 2015, right before the plane smashed into a highway bridge in Taiwan, killing 43 of its 58 passengers.

According to the report from the Taiwan's Aviation Safety Council, the plane had just taken off from Taipei's Songshan Airport when one of the engines lost power.

The pilot, who was killed along with the co-polit, then accidentally switched off the other working engine by pulling the wrong throttle, causing the aircraft to bank sharply, clip the Huandong Viaduct and then nosedive into the Keelung River below.

Tuninter Flight 1153, 2009

In March of 2009, both the pilot and co-pilot of Tuninter Flight 1153, which crashed into the Mediterranean Sea in 2005, were sentenced to ten-year jail sentences over the death of 16 passengers.

The men, Captain Shafik Al Gharbi and co-pilot Ali Kebaier Lassoued, were accused of praying instead of putting emergency procedures into place after the plane ran out of fuel due to a mechanical error and hurtled down towards the ocean.

In cockpit recordings played in court, Mr Gharbi was heard calling for the help of "Allah and Muhammad his prophet" - according to The Guardian.

There is evidence that the crew made numerous attempts to save the situation but ultimately panicked and allowed the crash to occur.

The plane was bound for Bari, Italy, from Djerba, Tunisia, and 23 of its 49 passengers survived after being rescued from the water.

KLM and Pan Am collision

31st March 1977: 562 were killed when a Pan-Am Plane collided with a KLM Jumbo in fog at Saint Cruz airport in the Canary Islands. Photo / Getty Images
31st March 1977: 562 were killed when a Pan-Am Plane collided with a KLM Jumbo in fog at Saint Cruz airport in the Canary Islands. Photo / Getty Images

In March 1977, the two Boeing 747s - KLM Flight 1736 and Pan Am Flight 1736 - smashed into one another at Tenerife Airport.

The collision occurred because of misunderstandings between the KLM flight crew and Air Traffic Control, meaning that the Pan Am plane was still on the runway when the KLM plane attempted to take off.

Dense fog that day meant that neither of them could see eachother.

All 248 passengers crew members in the KLM plane died, as did 326 passengers and nine crew members aboard the Pan Am. The other 54 passengers and seven crew members aboard the Pan Am aircraft survived, including the captain.

Airblue Flight 202, Islamabad

Rescuers search for survivors amid the wreckage of a plane that crashed on July 28, 2010 in Margala Hills on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. Photo / Getty Images
Rescuers search for survivors amid the wreckage of a plane that crashed on July 28, 2010 in Margala Hills on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan. Photo / Getty Images

This domestic passenger flight crashed on July 28, 2010, near Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, killing all 146 passengers and six crew on board.

Perhaps it could have been avoided if the plane's co-pilot has challenged the repeated errors made by the captain, but according to Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority in November 2011, he had been 'humiliated' by his boss throughout the flight and "lost his self esteem".

The captain was accused of taking a "harsh, snobbish and contrary" tone with his co-pilot several times during the flight. After then ignoring weather warnings from Air Traffic Control - saying "let him say whatever he wants to say" - he went unchallenged by his co-pilot as the disaster unfolded.

Struggling against heavy monsoon weather, the pilot panicked and ultimately lost control - with his co-pilot "failing to intervene" - sending the plane straight into the Margalla Hills.

Air Florida Flight 90, 1982

View of a section of Air Florida Flight 90 as it is lifted via crane out of the Potomac River, Washington DC, January 20, 1982. Photo / Getty Images
View of a section of Air Florida Flight 90 as it is lifted via crane out of the Potomac River, Washington DC, January 20, 1982. Photo / Getty Images

On January 13, 1982, the pilots of Air Florida Flight 90, from Washington DC to Florida's Fort Lauderdale made numerous errors before the crash - perhaps the most notable being their failure to switch on the de-icing system.

Additionally, despite taking off in a snow storm, the crew first used an ill-advised 'reverse thrust' to melt their own ice, rather than return to the gate for proper de-icing, and then failed to abort takeoff even after detecting a power problem.

The plane crashed into the Potomac River a mere 30 seconds after becoming airborn. Of the 79 people on board, only five survived, and an additional four people on the ground were struck and killed.

Eastern Air Lines Flight 401, 1972

On December 29, 1972, an Eastern Airlines Tristar jet crashed into the Florida Everglades, pictured, killing 101 on board, including the captain. Photo / AP
On December 29, 1972, an Eastern Airlines Tristar jet crashed into the Florida Everglades, pictured, killing 101 on board, including the captain. Photo / AP

On December 29, 1972, an Eastern Airlines Tristar jet crashed into the Florida Everglades, killing 101 on board, including the captain, and leaving 75 survivors.

It occurred because the pilot and co-pilot were distracted by a burnt-out bulb towards the end of the flight new New York's FJK to Miami.

While they were investigating a broken landing gear indicator light, someone accidentally bumped a lever which deactivated the plane's autopilot mode.

By the time the crew realised they were losing altitude, it was too late. The aircraft crashed.

- Daily Mail

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