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Worst Airplane Crashes That Changed How They Design Planes
Cockpit Voice Recorder Database

Nigeria Airways Flight 2120 (1991)

More than 200 people died on the Nigeria Airways Flight in 1991. This DC-8 crash prompted engineers to make some serious changes in tire safety procedures. The under-inflated tire caused this fatal crash, forcing a necessary look at the design of aircraft tires. Pilot error was also a part of this. A report on a fatal day said, “Before take-off, the lead mechanic of the Nigeria Airways Flight 2120 noticed two tires were below the minimum for flight dispatch and tried to inflate them – but no nitrogen gas was readily available. But despite this, the project manager, not willing to delay, gave the all-clear for take-off.” This pilot error, in addition to mechanical error, had a fatal result (Daily Star).

Worst Airplane Crashes That Changed How They Design Planes
Global News

Swissair Flight 111 (1998)

A simple failure in the electrical system of The McDonnell Douglas MD-11 crash prompted changes in future aircraft’s electrical systems to prevent horrible results such as this one. During the flight, “inside the attic, a high-power wire supplying the new in-flight entertainment system suffered a failure that led to electrical arcing.” The fire spread exponentially throughout the plane, with no chance of stopping it, causing fatalities of everyone on board (Medium).

Worst Airplane Crashes That Changed How They Design Planes
Simple Flying

Korean Air Flight 801 (1997)

In 1997, when Korean Air Flight 801 attempted to land at Guam International Airport, it crashed, killing 228 people. This crash highlighted the importance of communication in the cockpit and why crew training is so important. Even though the captain was an experienced pilot with many awards, he made one dire mistake that ended up killing everyone. The pilot failed to brief the crew on his landing procedure and felt fatigued before flying. All of this combined caused a catastrophic event (Simple Flying).

Worst Airplane Crashes That Changed How They Design Planes
Safety Compass

Air Florida Flight 90 (1982)

De-icing is an incredibly important part of flying an airplane. This is why, in 1982, the Boeing 737 crash caused engineers to seriously improve de-icing procedures. Miraculously, only a few survived. For starters, “Though the outside temperature was well below freezing and snow was falling, the crew did not activate the engine anti-ice system that prevents sensors in the engines from freezing and giving incorrect engine power readings.” Those who did survive woke up in the icy waters of a river (Safety Compass).

Worst Airplane Crashes That Changed How They Design Planes
Plane Into Home

Colgan Air Flight 3407 (2009)

It comes as no surprise that pilots suffer fatigue mid-flight. That’s exactly what happened to this Bombardier Dash 8-Q400, which forced changes in pilot training and fatigue regulations. During the flight, “The captain responded to the device improperly, and the stick pusher activated to prevent the aircraft from stalling. The captain overpowered the stick pusher. Furthermore, the first officer lowered the flaps, which was a mistake. The aircraft stalled and crashed into a house in Clarence Centre in the state of New York.” All the passengers and crew perished, forcing aviation to rethink how they train pilots (Aerotime).

Worst Airplane Crashes That Changed How They Design Planes
Simple Flying Images

Copa Airlines Flight 201 (1992)

The Boeing 737 Copa Airlines crash, prompted engineers to improve the cockpit voice recorder. It was Panama’s worst air crash in history. First, the plane died from bad weather. The pilots lost control of the plane as it descended rapidly and crashed into the jungle, killing all 47 people. This crash happened thanks to a series of things, including A loss of control due to false readings, the lack of a visible horizon due to nighttime and the approaching lousy weather, a non-standard cabin configuration, and incomplete simulator training.” The short circuit sent the wrong information to pilots, making a fatal mistake (Simple Flying).

Worst Airplane Crashes That Changed How They Design Planes
The Boston Globe

Delta Air Lines Flight 723 (1973)

Nowadays, we don’t have to worry as much about detrimental weather as we used to. But this wasn’t the case in the 70’s. This caused a DC-9 crash, which resulted in changes to weather-related flight procedures. During the flight, “the collision tears off some of the fuselage and the plane slams into the ground, breaking apart and bursting into flames.” Because of poor visibility, pilots had to rely on sensory instruments to land, which had a fatal result where many people died (History).

Worst Airplane Crashes That Changed How They Design Planes
Reddit

Arrow Air Flight 1285 (1985)

This crash in 1985 led engineers to seriously change maintenance practices to make sure this sort of crash never happens again. As one of Canada’s deadliest crashes, all 256 people died. The main cause was ice on the wings and miscalculated weight. Before crashing and exploding, the plane lifted into the air and then crashed. This system failure caused aviation engineers to rethink ice, speed with takeoff, and how the engines operate (Simple Flying).

Worst Airplane Crashes That Changed How They Design Planes
Medium

Avianca Flight 52 (1990)

As we all know, fuel management is important in aircraft. This is why the major Boeing 707 crash resulted in a necessary improvement in communication and fuel management procedures. As the flight approached JFK airport, en route from Medellin, Colombia, it crashed, killing 73 people out of 158 people. The plane ran out of fuel, and the mismatch in communication between the captain and copilot caused this fatal crash which made engineers rethink how they design planes and carry out fuel measurements (Lingoblog).

Worst Airplane Crashes That Changed How They Design Planes
Popular Mechanics

Trans World Airlines Flight 800 (1996)

Because of the Boeing 747 explosion in 1996, it forced engineers to redesign airplane fuel tanks. At first, people believed it was a terrorist attack, but it ended up being a horrible mechanical failure. It happened only minutes after departing JFK. It was on its way to Paris, and exploded over the Atlantic Ocean, just near Long Island. Everyone on the flight died. According to aviation’s managing director, “The investigation of the crash of T.W.A. Flight 800 is a seminal moment in aviation safety history. From that investigation, we issued safety recommendations that fundamentally changed the way aircraft are designed.” (History).

Worst Airplane Crashes That Changed How They Design Planes
The Independent

Air New Zealand Flight 901 (1979)

DC-10 crash into Mount Erebus in Antarctica resulted in changes to flight navigation and training. This was the worst crash in aviation history. It crashed on the lower slopes of Mt. Erebus. All 237 passengers died, and not one survived. The plane originally departed on a sightseeing tour of Antarctica. Investigators assumed the main cause of the crash was due to changes in the flight plan, and the management computer which was not on properly (NZ History).

Worst Airplane Crashes That Changed How They Design Planes
WFAA

Delta Air Lines Flight 191 (1985)

When this Lockheed L-1011 crashed, it led to major changes in weather-related flight procedures to prevent something as detrimental as this crash in 1985. A microburst in a thunderstorm caused the plane to come crashing down from the sky, while it attempted to land. After this crash, it forced the FAA to require all commercial flights to detect low-level wind shear (Fox Weather).

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