Search and rescue workers make their way through debris at the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus A320 that crashed in the French Alps, above the town of Seyne-les-Alpes, southeastern France on March 26, 2015.
Photo by Sebastien Nogier/EPA

5 examples of deliberate plane crashes

The co-pilot of the Germanwings plane appeared to deliberately crash the jet with 150 people aboard while the second pilot was “intentionally” locked outside the cockpit. 

“There was no reason to put the plane into a descent, nor to not respond to… air traffic controllers,” said Marseille Prosecutor Brice Robin at a news conference Thursday. “Was it suicide? I’m not using the word, I don’t know. Given the information I have at this time… I can tell you that he deliberately made possible the loss of altitude of the aircraft.”

Banging noises and passengers’ cries are heard on the cockpit voice recorder just moments before the A320 crashed in the French Alps. The recording also captures Andreas Lubitz, 27, who was alone in the cockpit, silent but breathing normally as his captain pounded on the locked door. This black-box recording has led French investigators to surmise that 150 people were killed from a deliberate act.

This isn’t the first time a pilot intentionally brought down a passenger plane. Here are five past examples:

Mozambique Airlines Flight TM470 – November 29, 2013

Twenty seven passengers and six crew members bound for Angola on board Mozambique Airlines flight TM470 were killed after leaving the capital Maputo. Aviation experts ruled that the pilot made a deliberate series of maneuvers” causing the crash, but motives for his actions remained unclear.

EgyptAir Flight 990 – October 31, 1999

In an act of revenge, the co-pilot of EgyptAir Flight 990, Gamil el-Batouty, had been reprimanded for “sexual misconduct” and told that he would not be allowed to fly U.S. routes. The executive who told el-Batouty was on board the plane that left New York’s John F. Kennedy airport to Cairo, Egypt. After 217 people were killed, the National Transportation Safety Board found from its investigation that there were no problems with the plane and that the pilot steered the aircraft straight into the ocean. 

 SilkAir Flight MI-185 – December 19, 1997

Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee found no mechanical failure with the plane that left from Jakarta, Indonesia and crashed in the Musi River, killing 104 people on board.  ”They say the cockpit voice recorder appeared to have been intentionally disconnected and the pilot, Tsu Way Ming, did not attempt to reverse the plane’s nosedive,” according to U.S. investigators

Royal Air Maroc Flight 630 – August 21, 1994

Forty four people were killed aboard the Royal Air Maroc flight that crashed into the Atlas Mountains just 10 minutes after takeoff from Agadir Airport in Morocco. Investigators ruled that the crash was “due to the deliberate wish of the pilot to end his life”. An Associated Press report cites that the pilot, Younes Khayati, was in distress over his love life according to a French news agency. Despite the investigators’ conclusions, a pilots union argued against the ruling saying that before takeoff, the pilot signaled to the control tower that he had technical difficulties and “wanted to return to the parking area.”

Japan Air Lines Flight 350 – February 9, 1982

After a Japan Air Lines jet fell short of landing on the main runway at Tokyo’s Hanea Airport and crashed into Tokyo Bay 300 yards from land, killing 24 of the 174 people on board, investigators blamed the captain’s mental state for the crash. Yasumoto Takagi, president of Japan Air Lines, said at a news conference that the pilot, Capt. Seiji Katagiri had had a ”psychosomatic illness” just two years prior to the crash. The police also cited “pilot error” as the main cause of the accident. 


5 examples of deliberate plane crashes