Thursday 14 November 2019

A dark 12 months for the aviation industry with seven high profile disasters

Mike Lavery

THE past 12 months have been a particularly black period for the aviation industry, with several high profile crashes claiming hundreds of lives.

The incredible co-incidence of the loss of two Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777s within months of each other made 2014 stand out in aviation history.

The loss of the two wide bodied, modern jet aircraft unfortunately set two new  black benchmarks in aviation.

It was the first time an airliner with so many passengers has vanished without trace and  it was the highest number of passengers killed in a "shoot down" incident.

Fatal airliner crashes last year include:

March 8, 2014: Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 disappeared during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijng.  Despite the largest and most expensive search in aviation history, no trace of the aircraft has been found.  Best predictions are that it went down in the vast South Indian Ocean, off the coast of Western Australia. The 239 people on board are assumed dead.

July 17, 2014:  Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed near Grabove in the eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, 193 of them Dutch.  Pro-Russian rebels are widely accused of shooting the plane down, using a surface to air missile.  They have denied responsibility and an investigation probe is ongoing.

July 23, 2014: A Taiwanese ATR-72 propeller plane crashed into stormy seas during a short flight. TransAsia Airways Flight GE222 was carrying 54 passengers and four crew to the island of Penghu. Forty eight people died. It crashed during a second attempt to land.

July 24, 2014: Air Algerie Flight AH5017 crashed over Mali during poor weather near the border with Burkina Faso.  The twin engined McDonnell Douglas MD-83 was operated by Spain's Swiftair and was flying from Ouagadougou to Algiers carrying 116 passengers  and crew when it went down. All were killed in the crash

December 28, 2014: An AirAsia Airbus A320 flying from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singpore came down in the sea off Borneo. The pilot had asked for permission to divert around bad weather but no Mayday alert was issued.  A total of 162 passengers and crew died in the crash.

So far this year, there have been two fatal airliner crashes:

February 4, 2015: A TransAsia Airways Flight 235 crashed into a river shortly after takeoff in Taiwan.  Some 42 out of 58 passengers and crew on board were killed. The aircraft's death plunge was captured by a dash camera on a vehicle on a nearby road. Engine failure on the ATR-72 turbo prop airline is one of the possible causes being examined by air accident investigators.

March 24, 2014: The Germanwings Airbus A320 which went down in the southern French Alps claimed the lives of 142 passengers and six crew.  It's rapid descent from its cruising altitude of 40,000 feet in a matter of minutes points to a major emergency on board which the pilots were struggling to contRol.  The aircraft's "black boxes," usually stored near the tailplane and designed to survive crashes, will contain vital information for investigators.  Structural failure of some kind, a failure of the plane's "fly by wire" control system or a terrorist incident will all be included in the list of possibilities of the tragedy.

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