The causes of the crash of Ukraine International Airlines’ Boeing 737-800 after takeoff from Tehran airport are still far from known and may never be clarified as the country’s authorities said they would not hand over the black boxes to the US. But one thing is certain, with 176 fatalities, it is the most serious accident with a 737 NG (New Generation), the most popular American jet series.
So far the accident that caused the most casualties with this series was the crash of a 737-800 in 2010 in India, with 158 dead. The jet had taken off from Dubai bound for Bangalore and eventually crossed the runway limits after the pilots maneuvered completely out of scope.
The Air India Express plane overcame the then most serious crash with a 737, again a Gol Linhas Aéreas -800 NG model that was struck by the winglet in Embraer Legacy in 2006 on a cruise flight over Brazil victimizing 154 people.
Bigger and more capable
Noteworthy is the escalation of victims in the list of the 10 largest accidents involving the Boeing aircraft. The most serious episode today is the one that marked the beginning of suspicions about the safety of the 737 Max, the crash of Lion Air’s JT 610 flight that killed 189 people.
As is well known, Boeing’s most popular jet has grown in size since it was launched on the market. If the first version (737-100) carried just over 100 passengers, the new Max 10 variant, the largest in its history, could accommodate up to 230 seats.
This explains why until 1992 the most fatal accident was Indian Airlines Flight 113 with a 737-200 and which killed 133 of its 135 occupants in October 1988. Just then, a larger 737-300 model, surpassed the sad record of 141 casualties in a China Southern jet crash.
In 2005, a year before the Gol crash, another 737-200 from Mandala Airlines attempted to take off without flaps and open slats and eventually crossed the runway boundaries and hit buildings. Of the 149 deaths, 49 were people who were on the ground.
In the list of the 10 largest accidents with the 737 are also the flight of Ethiopian Airlines last year (with 157 casualties), the second with a Max 8 and which has caused the grounding of the aircraft so far.
Interestingly, the only case on American soil, where much of the 737’s fleet is, was a flight from the now-defunct US Air in 1994 involving a -300 model that killed 132 people.
|Lion Air||737 Max 8||29/10/2018||189|
|Ukraine International Airlines||737-800||08/01/2020||176|
|Air India Express||737-800||22/05/2010||158|
|Ethiopian Airlines||737 Max 8||10/03/2019||157|
|Gol Linhas Aéreas||737-800||29/09/2006||154|
Source: Aviation Safety Network