Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 was a scheduled flight originating from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Beijing, China that should have spanned a duration of approximately five hours and twenty minutes with 239 passengers and crew on board. However, the passenger airplane never reached its destination, and it was nowhere to be seen on radars nor could air traffic controllers make contact with the plane after the flight transponder was turned off. In today’s technologically advanced world, it is difficult to imagine how an airplane could become “lost”. Fingers were pointed at mechanical failure and even a possible hijacking by passengers or flight crew. Unfortunately, Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 is not the first plane to test our trust in travelling with airlines. Here are four other notable airline disasters that preceded the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 incident.
#1: Air France Flight 447
Air France Flight 447 was a scheduled flight starting from Rio de Janiero in Brazil to Paris, France that crashed in the Atlantic Ocean with 228 people on board, making it the deadliest crash that Air France ever had. The plane was flying through turbulent conditions when it stalled mid-flight and unable to recover from the stall, crashed into the ocean after approximately three hours and forty minutes after departing from Rio de Janiero. It took the Bureau of Economic Analysis over two years to compile the final report regarding the accident after its initial crash. The cause of the accident was blamed on ice crystals which caused the obstruction of Pitot tubes, which measures the airspeed, and caused the autopilot to disconnect. The crew was then criticized for their failure to respond to the stall correctly, which lead to the crash of the plane, despite it being possible to have recovered from the stall if the proper measures were taken. The flight is notable for having taken over two years to complete the investigation and when it concluded, 74 bodies were still to be found.
#2: Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 702 was a scheduled flight originating from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Milan, Italy that was hijacked and flown to Geneva, Switzerland. All 202 flight crew and passengers survived. The aircraft landed at Geneva International with just minutes to spare and with only one engine remaining operating of the two-engine plane while attempting to negotiate asylum in Switzerland. The hijacker of the plane turned out to be the co-pilot of the aircraft, who was able to gain control of the airplane by simply locking the door of the cockpit after the pilot exited the cockpit to take a restroom break. After landing, the co-pilot escaped the aircraft by throwing rope out of the cockpit window and climbing down. He then subsequently ran to the police and told them that he was the hijacker. This incident makes for a harrowing reminder regarding how much trust is put into the pilot and co-pilot flying the aircraft.
#3: EgyptAir Flight 990
EgyptAir Flight 990 was a scheduled flight originating from Los Angeles, California and landing in Cairo, Egypt that was deliberately crashed into the Atlantic Ocean wuth the loss of all 217 people on-board. All was going fine when, during mid-flight, a series of seemingly deliberate maneuvers to cause the airplane to crash occurred. First, the plane’s autopilot was switched off, then the plane was pushed into a dive and the engines were shut off, and the aircraft was suddenly pulled back up to approximately 24,000 feet and broke apart due to the stress it was experiencing. After a look at the cockpit voice recorder, it was later determined that the co-pilot, Gameel Al-Batouti, took control of the aircraft and deliberately crashed the airplane. Al-Batouti took control of the aircraft after the captain of the plane exited the cockpit to go use the lavatory. The motive for Al-Batouti’s actions were blamed on revenge on Captain Hatem Rushdy after Rushdy scolded Al-Batouti regarding Al-Batouti’s supposed sexual misconduct. The investigation proved to be very contradictory and the National Transportation Safety Board concluded their investigation two years after the initial crash.
#4: FedEx Express Flight 705
FedEx Express Flight 705 was a scheduled cargo flight originating from Memphis, Tennessee heading for San Jose, California with four crew members. The flight was the subsequently hijacked in mid-air by the flight engineer by the name of Auburn Calloway. Calloway’s motive to hijack the plane was due to a notice that required him to attend a hearing regarding his deceptive application he submitted when he originally joined the company and because of the irregularities in his flight records, which likely would have caused his firing. Before he was set to go in for the hearing however, he decided that he was going to commit suicide mid-flight by taking over the plane and crashing it in order to let his family take advantage of the life insurance that FedEx offered, which have changed now directly due to the incident. Calloway had numerous hammers and even a speargun with him on-board to be used for the sole purpose of taking over the aircraft. Luckily, the hijacking was unsuccessful and the crew was able to subdue Calloway and land the aircraft safely. Unfortunately, the innocent crew members were all seriously injured and were not medically certified to fly any more commercial aircraft. This incident is a good remembrance of how people you think you can trust can backstab you the next chance they have.