Thursday, Jun 30, 2022
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Five Plane Crashes With Big Casualties In Recent History

A China Eastern Airlines plane crashed in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi on Monday. The aircraft in the accident was a Boeing 737, a variant of which has been involved in multiple major accidents in recent years. Here are the five major aircraft accidents in recent history.

Photograph of a crashed plane
Photograph of a crashed plane PTI photo

A China Eastern Airlines plane crashed in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi on Monday, according to Chinese state media. 

The aircraft in the accident was a Boeing 737, a variant of which has been involved in multiple major accidents in recent years. Here are the five major aircraft accidents in recent history.

Lion Air 610 crash 

Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into Java Sea on 29 October 2018.

The plane crashed within 13 minutes of taking off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Indonesia’s Jakarta. All 189 people in the plane were killed.

The investigators’ report, released almost a year after the accident, highlighted flaws in the design of the plane as well as mistakes by the airline and its staff members. 

A software in the plane called “Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS)”, was at fault as it kept overriding pilots’ instructions and pushed the nose of the plane down over 20 times. The plane eventually crashed at the speed of 450 mph.

On part of the pilots and crew, they could not realise the significance of the anomalies that the plane showed before the take-off and shortly after the take-off. Some of these were:

•    Thirty seconds before take-off, two displays in the plane showed two different wind speeds.
•    Two sensors that measure the plane’s orientation in the air had a very significant discrepancy of 21 degrees.
•    Shortly after take-off, the plane sensors showed two different air speeds. 
•    Altitude readings were also shown differently in the plane.

The Lion Air Flight 610 accident was the first of the two accidents involving Boeing's 737 Max aircraft, which led to scrutiny of the aircraft’s design. The second was the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident in March 2019.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed within six minutes of its take-off from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia on 10 March 2019. 

The aircraft slammed into Earth about 40 miles away from the airport at a speed of around 700 miles per hour. All 157 people in the plane were killed. 

Following the two accidents, the US Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing grounded all 737 Max aircraft to fully investigate the flaws in its designs, to correct wiring issues and to repair the flight control system. Pilots were also provided additional training. 

Ethiopia’s authorities said after the accident that the training provided to the pilots was inadequate. They also said the flight control system called MCAS was activated four times as pilots were struggling to take control of the aircraft before it crashed. The faulty MCAS was also blamed in the Lion Air 610 accident. 

Malaysia Airlines 370 accident

The Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on 8 March 2014 and it continues to remain among the most mysterious aircraft disappearances in history.

There were 227 passengers and 12 crew members in the plane at the time of its disappearance. 

The first piece of debris was not discovered until 29 July 2015 on a beach on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean. Since then, over two dozen pieces of debris have been discovered.  

In July 2018, the Malaysian government issued its final report on the plane’s disappearance and ruled mechanical malfunction as extremely unlikely. The report said the change in flight path likely resulted from manual inputs but the report could not exactly determine the causes of disappearance. 

The disappearance continues to be a mystery with no conclusive end to speculations and theories, which have ranged over the years from an attempt of hijacking to a pilot’s suicidal crash into the ocean.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed in Easter Ukraine on 17 July 2014. All 298 people in the plane were killed. Most of them were from the Netherlands. 

A Dutch investigation in 2015 found that the plane was hit by a Russian-made missile over Eastern Ukraine. Another investigation in 2016 said that the missile originated in Russia and was fired by Russia-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine. 

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. Russia has also supported separatists in the Eastern region of the country, where separatists are believed to have shot the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 aircraft.   

Mangalore accident

An Air India Express aircraft on 22 May 2010 overshot the runway at the Mangalore airport and fell into a gorge. The aircraft then caught fire. 

A total of 158 people were killed. There were only eight survivors.

An inquiry found that the direct cause of the accident was the captain's failure to discontinue the "unstabilised approach" and his persistence in going ahead with the landing despite three calls from the first officer to turn around and a number of warnings from Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System. 

The accident was worsened by the “tabletop” nature of the Mangalore runway. Such runways are built on raised plateau-like surfaces where the runways are higher than the surrounding terrain whose slopes effectively turn them into gorges and make any accident worse as relief and rescue operations are affected.
 

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