Air Disasters

Air Disasters

2003 - 2016, Action, Other, Transport
Looking in-depth at the reasons behind recent high-profile air disasters. Using re-enactments, news footage, witness accounts, and computer graphics
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Episode Guide

  • Air Disasters - Pilot Betrayed (Season 10 Episode 6)
    Season 10 Episode 6:

    Pilot Betrayed

    Both engines of Scandinavian Airlines Flight 751 fail upon takeoff in winter conditions.

  • Air Disasters - Hudson River Runway (Season 10 Episode 5)
    Season 10 Episode 5:

    Hudson River Runway

    United Airlines Flight 1549 loses thrust after takeoff from New York's LaGuardia Airport after colliding with a flock of birds.

  • Air Disasters - Dead Tired (Season 10 Episode 4)
    Season 10 Episode 4:

    Dead Tired

    A Continental Connections plane stalls and crashes into a suburban home on its approach to Buffalo-Niagara International Airport.

  • Air Disasters - The Heathrow Enigma (Season 10 Episode 2)
    Season 10 Episode 2:

    The Heathrow Enigma

    British Airways Flight 38 sustains double engine failure and crashes on Heathrow Airport's tarmac.

  • Air Disasters - Who's In Control? (Season 10 Episode 1)
    Season 10 Episode 1:

    Who's In Control?

    Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 crashes as it approaches Schiphol Airport.

  • Air Disasters - Cockpit Failure (Season 9 Episode 6)
    Season 9 Episode 6:

    Cockpit Failure

    Minutes before they're scheduled to land in Zurich, the pilots of a routine passenger flight can't find the runway. They abort and power up the engines in order to climb, but they are too late.

  • Air Disasters - Frozen in Flight (Season 7 Episode 8)
    Season 7 Episode 8:

    Frozen in Flight

    A twin-engine plane crashes while circling O'Hare in bad weather; ice on the wings is the cause.

  • Air Disasters - Flight 574 - Lost (Season 7 Episode 7)
    Season 7 Episode 7:

    Flight 574 - Lost

    Poor maintenance and crew training dooms Adam Air Flight 574 which disappears over the Java Sea.

  • Air Disasters - The Plane That Vanished (Season 7 Episode 4)
    Season 7 Episode 4:

    The Plane That Vanished

    Adam Air Flight 574 crashes into the Java Sea after leaving Indonesia on New Year's Day 2007.

  • Air Disasters - Sight Unseen (Season 7 Episode 4)
    Season 7 Episode 4:

    Sight Unseen

    The worst mid-air collision in aviation history involves Saudi Airways and Kazakhstan Airlines.

  • Air Disasters - Operation Babylift (Season 7 Episode 3)
    Season 7 Episode 3:

    Operation Babylift

    Tragic story from the Vietnam War when over 250 children, who were being airlifted to safety on a US Air Force C5A Galaxy, died in a mysterious explosion.

  • Air Disasters - Blown Apart (Season 7 Episode 3)
    Season 7 Episode 3:

    Blown Apart

    Partnair Flight 94, a charter from Oslo to Hamburg, crashes into the sea and kills all 55 people on board.

  • Air Disasters - Lockerbie Disaster (Season 7 Episode 2)
    Season 7 Episode 2:

    Lockerbie Disaster

    The destruction of a 747 and 270 deaths is caused by a pound of explosives on a Pan Am flight.

  • Air Disasters - Falling Fast (Season 7 Episode 1)
    Season 7 Episode 1:

    Falling Fast

    Investigators discover a shocking mistake when pilots must ditch their plane in the Mediterranean, killing 14 of the 34 passengers.

  • Air Disasters - Scratching the Surface (Season 7 Episode 1)
    Season 7 Episode 1:

    Scratching the Surface

    Investigators are stumped when China Airlines Flight 611 disappears from radar and all 225 passengers and crew are killed.

  • Air Disasters - Who's Flying the Plane? (Season 6 Episode 3)
    Season 6 Episode 3:

    Who's Flying the Plane?

    Aviation disasters that resulted from problems with autopilots and computerized systems.

  • Air Disasters - Fatal Fix (Season 6 Episode 1)
    Season 6 Episode 1:

    Fatal Fix

    Accidents caused by minor defects or errors.

  • Air Disasters - Hanging By a Thread (Season 4 Episode 16)
    Season 4 Episode 16:

    Hanging By a Thread

    A roof tears off a plane at 24,000 feet in the sky of an Aloha Airlines 737.

  • Air Disasters - Attack Over Baghdad (Season 4 Episode 15)
    Season 4 Episode 15:

    Attack Over Baghdad

    A surface-to-air missile cripples a cargo plane after it takes off from Baghdad International Airport.

  • Air Disasters - Out of Control (Season 4 Episode 14)
    Season 4 Episode 14:

    Out of Control

    A simple error years prior causes the deadliest single-plane crash in history.

  • Air Disasters - Vanished (Season 4 Episode 13)
    Season 4 Episode 13:


    Air France Flight 447 vanishes over the Atlantic in 2009.

  • Air Disasters - Seconds to Survive (Season 4 Episode 12)
    Season 4 Episode 12:

    Seconds to Survive

    Santa Barbara Airlines Flight 518 disappears in the Andes Mountains.

  • Air Disasters - Subtle Incapacitation (Season 4 Episode 11)
    Season 4 Episode 11:

    Subtle Incapacitation

    The 2010 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 sparks rumors of terrorism.

  • Air Disasters - Death of the President (Season 4 Episode 10)
    Season 4 Episode 10:

    Death of the President

    The air disaster that claimed the President of Poland's life, Lech Kaczynski.

  • Air Disasters - Inbound (Season 4 Episode 10)
    Season 4 Episode 10:


    U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and 34 others are killed in 1996 when their Air Force 737 crashes on a mountain in Croatia.

  • Air Disasters - Lokomotiv Hockey Team Disaster (Season 4 Episode 9)
    Season 4 Episode 9:

    Lokomotiv Hockey Team Disaster

    The plane crash that wiped out one of Russia's most popular hockey teams.

  • Air Disasters - Desperate Dive (Season 4 Episode 9)
    Season 4 Episode 9:

    Desperate Dive

    Flash Airlines Flight 604 crashes into the Red Sea shortly after take-off, killing all 148 people on board.

  • Air Disasters - Focused on Failure (Season 4 Episode 8)
    Season 4 Episode 8:

    Focused on Failure

    A DC-8's four engines flame out just miles from its destination.

  • Air Disasters - Panic Over the Pacific (Season 4 Episode 8)
    Season 4 Episode 8:

    Panic Over the Pacific

    A stalled engine causes China Airlines Flight 006 to go into a deadly spin before crew members were able to regain control.

  • Air Disasters - Catastrophe at O'Hare (Season 4 Episode 7)
    Season 4 Episode 7:

    Catastrophe at O'Hare

    The 1979 crash in Chicago nearly grounded DC-10's forever.

  • Air Disasters - Out of Sight (Season 4 Episode 7)
    Season 4 Episode 7:

    Out of Sight

    A 1986 midair crash between Aeroméxico Flight 498 and Piper Archer N4891F near Los Angeles results in the creation of a collision-avoidance system.

  • Air Disasters - Grand Canyon (Season 4 Episode 6)
    Season 4 Episode 6:

    Grand Canyon

    The 1956 midair collision between two commercial planes over the Grand Canyon.

  • Air Disasters - Ghost Plane (Season 4 Episode 6)
    Season 4 Episode 6:

    Ghost Plane

    The worst crash in Greek aviation history occurs in 2005 when all 121 people on board Helios Airways Flight 522 lose consciousness.

  • Air Disasters - Blind Landing (Season 4 Episode 5)
    Season 4 Episode 5:

    Blind Landing

    After a violent hailstorm brings down a plane in the middle of the Amazon, the investigation is compromised by local villagers.

  • Air Disasters - Hidden Danger (Season 4 Episode 5)
    Season 4 Episode 5:

    Hidden Danger

    Mystery surrounds two 737 crashes until USAir Flight 427's near miss gives investigators the information to solve the case.

  • Air Disasters - Pushed to the Limit (Season 4 Episode 4)
    Season 4 Episode 4:

    Pushed to the Limit

    A SilkAir Flight 185's plunge is suspicious.

  • Air Disasters - Missed Approach (Season 4 Episode 4)
    Season 4 Episode 4:

    Missed Approach

    Korean Airlines Flight 801 overshoots a runway during the final approach for a night landing and crashes into a hillside on Aug. 6, 1997.

  • Air Disasters - Caution to the Wind (Season 4 Episode 3)
    Season 4 Episode 3:

    Caution to the Wind

    A runway closed for construction.

  • Air Disasters - Fire Fight (Season 4 Episode 3)
    Season 4 Episode 3:

    Fire Fight

    When fire erupted aboard Air Canada Flight 797, the pilot made an emergency landing; flames engulfed the plane when the doors opened, killing half of the passengers.

  • Air Disasters - Fire in the Hold (Season 4 Episode 2)
    Season 4 Episode 2:

    Fire in the Hold

    A plane crash into the alligator-infested Florida Everglades.

  • Air Disasters - Falling From the Sky (Season 4 Episode 2)
    Season 4 Episode 2:

    Falling From the Sky

    British Airways Flight 9 falls toward the ocean when all four engines mysteriously fail, and then restart.

  • Air Disasters - Fight for Control (Season 4 Episode 1)
    Season 4 Episode 1:

    Fight for Control

    The emergency landing of a Reeve Aleutian Airlines plane over the Pacific Ocean.

  • Air Disasters - Miracle Escape (Season 4 Episode 1)
    Season 4 Episode 1:

    Miracle Escape

    In August 2005, Air France Flight 358 skidded off the runway in Toronto, trapping more than 300 passengers on the plane.

  • Air Disasters - Crash of the Century (Season 3 Episode 14)
    Season 3 Episode 14:

    Crash of the Century

    Two fully loaded jumbo airliners sustain 583 casualties despite not having left the ground.

  • Air Disasters - African Hijack (Season 3 Episode 13)
    Season 3 Episode 13:

    African Hijack

    When three hijackers ordered an Ethiopian plane to fly to Australia, the pilot tricked them by flying south along the African coast, with deadly consequences.

  • Air Disasters - Runaway Train (Season 3 Episode 12)
    Season 3 Episode 12:

    Runaway Train

    A freight train derails and crashes; a pipeline explodes two weeks later.

  • Air Disasters - Nowhere to Land (Season 3 Episode 11)
    Season 3 Episode 11:

    Nowhere to Land

    Pilots of TACA Flight 110 make a remarkable landing on a narrow levee, but investigators must find out why the engines in a brand new plane failed.

  • Air Disasters - Collision Course (Season 3 Episode 11)
    Season 3 Episode 11:

    Collision Course

    A Greek ferry en route to the island of Paros smashes into a rock and sinks.

  • Air Disasters - Split Decision (Season 3 Episode 10)
    Season 3 Episode 10:

    Split Decision

    Arrow Air Flight 1285 with 248 American soldiers on board crashes seconds after refueling in Newfoundland.

  • Air Disasters - Head-On Collision (Season 3 Episode 10)
    Season 3 Episode 10:

    Head-On Collision

    Two trains somehow on the same track collide with each other.

  • Air Disasters - Bad Attitude (Season 3 Episode 9)
    Season 3 Episode 9:

    Bad Attitude

    Korean Air Cargo Flight 8509 crashes shortly after take off from London Stansted Airport on December 22, 1999.

  • Air Disasters - Kid in the Cockpit (Season 3 Episode 9)
    Season 3 Episode 9:

    Kid in the Cockpit

    A Russian pilot allowed his teenage son to take control of Aeroflot Flight 593, setting in motion a chain of events that caused the deaths of 70 people.

  • Air Disasters - The Invisible Plane (Season 3 Episode 8)
    Season 3 Episode 8:

    The Invisible Plane

    SAS Flight 686 takes off from Milan's Linate Airport and moments later collides with a Cessna on the runway.

  • Air Disasters - EgyptAir 990 (Season 3 Episode 8)
    Season 3 Episode 8:

    EgyptAir 990

    EgyptAir Flight 990 suddenly crashes into the sea killing all 217 people aboard causing controversy over whether it was intentional or a mechanical malfunction.

  • Air Disasters - Under Pressure (Season 3 Episode 7)
    Season 3 Episode 7:

    Under Pressure

    On July 11, 1991, the crew of Nigeria Airways Flight 2120 unsuccessfully tries to return to the airport after a burst tire creates an in-flight fire which causes 247 Nigerian pilgrims and 14 crew to perish.

  • Air Disasters - Helicopter Down (Season 3 Episode 7)
    Season 3 Episode 7:

    Helicopter Down

    In 1995, a chopper carrying 18 people to a North Sea oil platform crashes; miraculously, everyone onboard survived in a life raft.

  • Air Disasters - Break up Over Texas (Season 3 Episode 6)
    Season 3 Episode 6:

    Break up Over Texas

    Near the end of its flight, Continental Express Flight 2574 suffers wing damage and goes into a dive falling out of the sky.

  • Air Disasters - Mistaken Identity (Season 3 Episode 6)
    Season 3 Episode 6:

    Mistaken Identity

    The captain of a Navy cruiser must quickly determine if an approaching plane is friendly.

  • Air Disasters - Turning Point (Season 3 Episode 5)
    Season 3 Episode 5:

    Turning Point

    A Northwest Airlines flight cruises above the Bering Sea before problems develop and pilots must make an emergency landing in Anchorage.

  • Air Disasters - Bomb on Board (Season 3 Episode 5)
    Season 3 Episode 5:

    Bomb on Board

    In 1994 on Philippine Airlines Flight 434, a terrorist bombing requires a daring emergency landing.

  • Air Disasters - Impossible Landing (Season 3 Episode 4)
    Season 3 Episode 4:

    Impossible Landing

    A shocking look at the fate of United Airlines Flight 232 which crashed into Sioux City's runway in 1989 causing a subsequent explosion that left 111 people dead.

  • Air Disasters - Fight for Your Life (Season 3 Episode 4)
    Season 3 Episode 4:

    Fight for Your Life

    Three FedEx employees must regain control of their plane when a coworker attacks them in midair.

  • Air Disasters - I'm the Problem (Season 3 Episode 3)
    Season 3 Episode 3:

    I'm the Problem

    Moments before Pacific Southwest Flight 1771 crashes on a cattle ranch in California, gunshots are heard in the cabin.

  • Air Disasters - Mayday Munich (Season 3 Episode 2)
    Season 3 Episode 2:

    Mayday Munich

    A plane with members of the Manchester United football team crashes while heading home from Yugoslavia, killing 23 aboard.

  • Air Disasters - Blind Spot (Season 3 Episode 1)
    Season 3 Episode 1:

    Blind Spot

    In 1978, PSA Flight 182 collides with a Cessna and crashes into a San Diego residential area killing everyone on both planes and seven people on the ground.

  • Air Disasters - Deadly Reputation (Season 2 Episode 12)
    Season 2 Episode 12:

    Deadly Reputation

    On July 17, 2007, TAM Airlines Flight 3054 slides off runway 35L at Congonhas Airport in São Paulo, Brazil, and crashes at high speed into a warehouse adjacent to a petrol station killing nearly 200 people.

  • Air Disasters - The Plane That Flew Too High (Season 2 Episode 11)
    Season 2 Episode 11:

    The Plane That Flew Too High

    West Caribbean Airways Flight 708 crashes down killing 160 people in 2005 ultimately leading to the bankruptcy of the troubled airline.

  • Air Disasters - Cleared for Disaster (Season 2 Episode 10)
    Season 2 Episode 10:

    Cleared for Disaster

    An air traffic controller's mistake causes a Boeing 737 to land on a runway already occupied by another aircraft.

  • Air Disasters - The Final Blow (Season 2 Episode 9)
    Season 2 Episode 9:

    The Final Blow

    An Air Inter flight crashes into the Vosges Mountains while attempting to land killing most of the 96 passengers.

  • Air Disasters - System Breakdown (Season 2 Episode 8)
    Season 2 Episode 8:

    System Breakdown

    Five aviation disasters and the changes they have forced air-traffic controllers to make.

  • Air Disasters - Pilot vs. Plane (Season 2 Episode 7)
    Season 2 Episode 7:

    Pilot vs. Plane

    Air France Flight 296 fails to regain altitude after performing a flyby during an air show at Mulhouse-Habsheim Airport.

  • Air Disasters - Cold Case (Season 2 Episode 6)
    Season 2 Episode 6:

    Cold Case

    Two similar plane crashes in Ontario and New York prompt an investigation which determines that the source of the crashes was due to a design flaw on the wings of the planes, both Fokker F28s.

  • Air Disasters - Missing Over New York (Season 2 Episode 6)
    Season 2 Episode 6:

    Missing Over New York

    When fog causes delays at JFK airport, circling Avianca Flight 052 runs out of fuel causing it to crash and kill 73 people.

  • Air Disasters - Alarming Silence (Season 2 Episode 5)
    Season 2 Episode 5:

    Alarming Silence

    Northwest Airlines Flight 255 crashes shortly after take-off in Detroit in 1987 proving to be one of the worst aviation disasters in American history.

  • Air Disasters - Lost (Season 2 Episode 5)
    Season 2 Episode 5:


    American Airlines Flight 965 crashes into a 9,000 foot mountain near Buga killing all but 4 people aboard.

  • Air Disasters - Panic on the Runway (Season 2 Episode 4)
    Season 2 Episode 4:

    Panic on the Runway

    On August 22nd, 1985, 55 people died aboard British Airtours flight 28M when its engine catches fire as it accelerates.

  • Air Disasters - Deadly Crossroads (Season 2 Episode 4)
    Season 2 Episode 4:

    Deadly Crossroads

    In July 2002, a passenger plane and cargo plane collide after the passenger plane receives conflicting instructions from air traffic control and the aircraft's anti-collision equipment.

  • Air Disasters - Cruel Skies (Season 2 Episode 3)
    Season 2 Episode 3:

    Cruel Skies

    The U.S. Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, Mo., and the importance of accurate weather forecasting to the aviation industry.

  • Air Disasters - The Killing Machine (Season 2 Episode 3)
    Season 2 Episode 3:

    The Killing Machine

    A group of terrorists seize Air France Flight 8969 and start killing the passengers with the intention of exploding the plane over the Eiffel Tower.

  • Air Disasters - Target is Destroyed (Season 2 Episode 2)
    Season 2 Episode 2:

    Target is Destroyed

    During the Cold War, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 is shot down by a fighter jet when it violates Soviet airspace.

  • Air Disasters - Wounded Bird (Season 2 Episode 2)
    Season 2 Episode 2:

    Wounded Bird

    Corrosion causes a propeller on Flight ASA 529 to fail; crew and passengers die in the fire while attempting to escape.

  • Air Disasters - Cracks in the System (Season 2 Episode 1)
    Season 2 Episode 1:

    Cracks in the System

    Chalk's Ocean Airways flight 101 crashes just after take-off from Watson Island in Miami on December 19, 2005, killing 20 people.

  • Air Disasters - Blow Out (Season 2 Episode 1)
    Season 2 Episode 1:

    Blow Out

    On June 10, 1990, the crew of British Airways Flight 111 faces a desperate situation when the plane's windshield pops off, sucking the pilot through the opening.

  • Air Disasters - Phantom Strike (Season 1 Episode 10)
    Season 1 Episode 10:

    Phantom Strike

    In September 2006, a brand-new Legacy business jet collides with a Boeing 737 over the Amazon Rain Forest.

  • Air Disasters - Fatal Distraction (Season 1 Episode 9)
    Season 1 Episode 9:

    Fatal Distraction

    Pilots of Eastern Airline Flight 401 try to determine why both landing-gear lights do not function, tragically distracting them.

  • Air Disasters - Mixed Signals (Season 1 Episode 8)
    Season 1 Episode 8:

    Mixed Signals

    Conflicting alarms confuse pilots of Birgenair Flight 301 before it crashes into the ocean with no survivors.

  • Air Disasters - Explosive Evidence (Season 1 Episode 7)
    Season 1 Episode 7:

    Explosive Evidence

    A bomb explodes on Air India Flight 182 en route from Canada to India causing it to disintegrate over the coast of Ireland.

  • Air Disasters - Southern Storm (Season 1 Episode 6)
    Season 1 Episode 6:

    Southern Storm

    Pilots of Southern Airways Flight 242 must try to land on a Georgia highway after the engines die and the windshield shatters.

  • Air Disasters - Fire on Board (Season 1 Episode 6)
    Season 1 Episode 6:

    Fire on Board

    A fire and electrical failure on Swissair Flight 111 ends in tragedy, with the plane crashing into the Atlantic, killing all 229 passengers and crew on board.

  • Air Disasters - Dead Weight (Season 1 Episode 5)
    Season 1 Episode 5:

    Dead Weight

    Air Midwest Flight 5481 plane plummets to the ground just after take off killing all on board and injuring one on the ground.

  • Air Disasters - Cutting Corners (Season 1 Episode 5)
    Season 1 Episode 5:

    Cutting Corners

    Maintenance errors cause the stabilizer on Air Alaska Flight 261 to malfunction, sending the plane into the ocean.

  • Air Disasters - Fanning the Flames (Season 1 Episode 4)
    Season 1 Episode 4:

    Fanning the Flames

    A complex recovery operation is launched to find out if a 747 which disappeared into the Indian Ocean was carrying illegal weapons.

  • Air Disasters - Flying on Empty (Season 1 Episode 4)
    Season 1 Episode 4:

    Flying on Empty

    Air Transat Flight 236 begins to leak fuel over the Atlantic and must glide into a landing at the naval base on the island of Azores.

  • Air Disasters - Behind Closed Doors (Season 1 Episode 3)
    Season 1 Episode 3:

    Behind Closed Doors

    A design fault leads to an explosion on a DC-10 and two years later the same design fault causes another tragedy.

  • Air Disasters - Flying Blind (Season 1 Episode 3)
    Season 1 Episode 3:

    Flying Blind

    The crew relies on malfunctioning airspeed and altitude indicators to make an emergency landing which ends in disaster for Aeroperú Flight 603.

  • Air Disasters - Gimli Glider (Season 1 Episode 2)
    Season 1 Episode 2:

    Gimli Glider

    A pilot heads for a decommissioned air force base when the Boeing 767 jet he is flying unexpectedly runs out of fuel.

  • Air Disasters - Unlocking Disaster (Season 1 Episode 2)
    Season 1 Episode 2:

    Unlocking Disaster

    The investigation of United Airlines Flight 811, which lost five rows of seats and nine passengers when the cargo door opened while in flight.

  • Air Disasters - Invisible Killer (Season 1 Episode 1)
    Season 1 Episode 1:

    Invisible Killer

    During a storm, a strong gale slams Delta Airlines Flight 191 to the ground killing most people on board.

  • Air Disasters - Racing the Storm (Season 1 Episode 1)
    Season 1 Episode 1:

    Racing the Storm

    Chronicling an airline pilot and co-pilot's struggle to beat a storm to Little Rock, Ark., that climaxed in a crash.

  • Air Disasters - Testing the Limits (Episode 75)
    Episode 75:

    Testing the Limits

    The first-ever 767 plane crash in history: Lauda Air Flight 004.

  • Air Disasters - Vertigo (Episode 74)
    Episode 74:


    An examination of the crash over the Red Sea in January 2004.

  • Air Disasters - Kid in the Cockpit (Episode 66)
    Episode 66:

    Kid in the Cockpit

    A pilot's decision to let his 15-year-old son fly has disastrous consequences on a commercial flight.

  • Air Disasters - Death and Denial (Episode 65)
    Episode 65:

    Death and Denial

    The worst air crash in Egypt's history.

  • Air Disasters - Helicopter Down (Episode 64)
    Episode 64:

    Helicopter Down

    A helicopter carrying oil workers to an offshore drilling platform crashes.

  • Air Disasters - Deadly Components (Episode 10)
    Episode 10:

    Deadly Components

    Faulty maintenance can have deadly consequences.

  • Air Disasters - Falling Fast

    Falling Fast

    A turbo prop plane is forced to land in the sea; criminal charges are filed for a faulty fuel gauge.

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