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The 17 Scariest Airplane Moments of 2017

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The 17 Scariest Airplane Moments of 2017

Flying can be terrifying. The potential for accidents or mishaps is always present, although they’re rare when compared to automobile accidents. From airplane food to the reason why cabin lights are dimmed, nearly every aspect of air travel has the potential to freak you out. Therefore, it can be doubly upsetting when something actually does go wrong on board.

Over the past year, there were many scary moments on board various flights around the world. Most were handled with far more grace and care by their respective airlines than the various controversies this year, but perhaps it’s because life and death situations tend to bring people together. Air safety is important, and these situations have brought quite a few issues to the attention of both the public and the air officials in charge of fixing them. We’re hoping 2018 will have fewer moments like these, but just so you’re aware, here are the 17 scariest moments in aviation of 2017.

Aeroflot Flight Turbulence Injures 30 Passengers

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Aeroflot Flight Turbulence Injures 30 Passengers

On May 2, severe turbulence caused the injuries of 30 passengers flying with Aeroflot from Moscow to Bangkok. During its approach to Suvarnabhumi Airport, the aircraft hit an air hole, an area of low air pressure in which planes can sometimes drop. Of those injured, 27 were hospitalized, with some passengers receiving serious fractures and bruising. Witnesses told CNN that passengers were thrown out of their seats and reported broken noses and limbs as well as blood on the ceiling of the aircraft, all of which was corroborated with photos and video taken by passengers.

AirAsia Flight Experiences Extreme Turbulence for 90 Minutes

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AirAsia Flight Experiences Extreme Turbulence for 90 Minutes

A Kuala Lumpur-bound AirAsia flight saw 90 minutes of terror in which the aircraft kept shaking in a manner that, as one passenger told the Australian Broadcasting Corp., made passengers feel like they “were sitting on top of a washing machine.” An hour and a half after takeoff from Perth, passengers told Perth Now that they heard a bang loud enough to wake some sleeping passengers. One passenger claimed it was an explosion on the aircraft’s left wing, whereas another reported a “strange smell.”  The flight’s captain made an announcement to passengers informing them that a blade had come off one of the engines, but the airline denied any engine issues when it spoke with Nine News Australia. Both the airline and Perth Airport made statements to media outlets citing a vague “technical issue.” The flight returned to Australia, where it landed safely and passengers were rebooked on another flight.

Airplane Nearly Collides With Crowded Runway

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Airplane Nearly Collides With Crowded Runway

In what one senior aviation data analyst referred to as “a pretty major screw-up,” an Air Canada pilot mistook a crowded taxiway at San Francisco Airport for a runway and narrowly avoided a massive collision back in July. The aircraft flew as low as 175 feet before the pilot was able to pull up and narrowly miss four passenger jets waiting to take off. There is evidence that there was only one air traffic controller working at the time, and it was thanks to a warning from a pilot on the ground that the Air Canada pilot was able to make the save. Air traffic control reports show that the incident may also have occurred as a result of the closure of one of the airport’s two runways. Around 1,000 people were on board the five airplanes involved, but luckily, no injuries occurred. 

Airplane Tires Blow Out Upon Landing

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Airplane Tires Blow Out Upon Landing

Shortly after touchdown on November 26, multiple tires on a United Airlines flight blew out on the runway at Newark Liberty International Airport. “I almost went flying out of my seat,” one passenger told News 12 New Jersey. Fortunately, no one on the flight, which was coming from Frankfurt, was harmed, but passengers were stranded on the tarmac for approximately an hour before a bus came to take them to the terminal. One of the airport’s runways had to shut down temporarily as a result, causing delays for other flights and not doing much to improve Newark’s standing as one of the worst U.S. airports for the holidays.

Airplane Wingtip Clipped in Runway Collision

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Airplane Wingtip Clipped in Runway Collision

Virgin Atlantic passengers received quite the scare on the runway when a wingtip of their London-bound plane was clipped by another during taxi at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. One passenger posted photos on Twitter showing the damage that occurred when a Virgin Atlantic A330 had its wing damaged by the collision with an EgyptAir 777. Luckily, no one was injured and all crew members and passengers were disembarked safely.

American Airlines Passengers Hospitalized After Plane Lurches

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American Airlines Passengers Hospitalized After Plane Lurches

An August 5 incident sent people flying — and ten of them to the hospital — when it lurched violently mid-air. The American Airlines flight was flying over the Atlantic Ocean en route to Philadelphia from Greece, and the cabin crew had just handed out drinks when both passengers and crew members were suddenly urged to return to their seats and fasten their seat belts. Drinks began spilling as turbulence increased, and the plane suddenly lurched hard, sending both drinks and people flying into the air. Three passengers and seven crew members were hospitalized as a result once the aircraft landed in Philadelphia after about half an hour, but all were released by the next morning.

Bird Creates Giant Hole in Aircraft

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Bird Creates Giant Hole in Aircraft

Birds hit planes quite often, but they don’t usually create big holes when doing so. That’s exactly what happened to an American Airlines aircraft in November, however, as it flew from Mexico City to Miami. The bird lodged itself into the airplane, creating a giant hole which caused the airplane to later be taken out of service. The flight and its passengers landed safely. The bird, however, did not.

Cabin Crew Panics as Airplane Drops 20,000 Feet

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Cabin Crew Panics as Airplane Drops 20,000 Feet

AirAsia passengers on a Bali-bound flight may not have experienced as much terror as they did when their plane dropped 20,000 feet if it weren’t for the reactions of airline staff on board. AirAsia Flight QZ535, which took off from Perth on October 15, experienced an issue with its cabin pressure; the pilot initiated a rapid descent and deployed oxygen masks. Passengers reported to Seven News Australia that there was not much panic until the cabin crew started screaming and “went hysterical.” The flight was diverted back to Perth where it made a safe landing.

Electrical Storm Diverts Flight

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Electrical Storm Diverts Flight

A Ryanair flight from Ibiza to London Stansted in August met with an electrical storm that caused the flight to drop and experience extreme turbulence for much of the five-hour journey. Passenger Alex Rayner reported to The Daily Express that the airplane circled over Stansted for two hours before being diverted to East Midlands Airport. An initial landing attempt at the Derby airport had to be aborted before passengers landed safely on the second try. Once conditions improved, passengers were flown back to Stansted Airport. No one was injured, and the airline also reported no vomiting.

Emergency Landing After Passengers Smell Smoke

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Emergency Landing After Passengers Smell Smoke

On July 7, a flight heading to Cleveland from Kingston, Jamaica, had to make an emergency landing at Miami International Airport after reports of possible fire or smoke in the aircraft’s cargo hold. Passengers were told they were in an emergency situation, and no one was harmed, but an airport official told Fox 8 Cleveland that no fire was discovered. There have been no reports as to what caused the emergency landing, but Fox 8 Cleveland reported that every passenger they spoke to “insisted they smelled something burning,” and some even reported seeing smoke outside the window.

Emirates Flight Swerves Dangerously on Runway

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Emirates Flight Swerves Dangerously on Runway

A video depicting an Emirates Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane, making a terrifying landing went viral in October. Emirates flight EK 55 landed in Düsseldorf, Germany, on October 5, already wobbling upon approach and then bouncing and swerving severely upon landing. The pilots were able to get the plane on track within seconds, but the video still managed to terrify many and has earned over 12.6 million views on YouTube so far.

Engine Catches Fire Upon Landing

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Engine Catches Fire Upon Landing

The left engine of a United Express jet caught fire shortly after landing at Denver International Airport from Aspen back in July. Although no one was injured, the terrifying images quickly made the rounds on social media. First responders put out the fire on the plane, which was being flown by SkyWest Airlines.

Engine Explodes Over the Atlantic Ocean

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Engine Explodes Over the Atlantic Ocean

On September 30, the engine of an airplane flying from Paris to Los Angeles exploded mid-air over the Atlantic Ocean. The Air France Airbus A380, which can fly using just two of its four engines, was forced to make an emergency landing in Goose Bay, Canada. Passengers who spoke with The New York Times and the New York Daily News reported a loud bang or popping noise before the plane dropped and started shaking. Air France later reported in a public statement that the engine had experienced “serious damage” and praised the actions of the pilots and crew members. No explanation for the explosion was given.

Engine Overheats Over Gulf of Mexico

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Engine Overheats Over Gulf of Mexico

Yet another flight saw one of its engines give out over the ocean this past year, this time due to overheating. On April 24, United Flight 1516 had taken off from Houston and was headed to Liberia, Costa Rica, when it experienced engine issues. Jody Genessy, a reporter who happened to be a passenger on board, tweeted about the entire ordeal. Later on Facebook, he wrote that the aircraft “tilted to the right and the wing almost hit the runway” before the pilot managed to pull up. Genessy told People magazine that, in order to burn fuel, the pilot circled the aircraft for an hour before landing back at Daniel Oduber International Airport, where it had taken off from.

Gas Leak Goes Unnoticed by Flight Crew

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Gas Leak Goes Unnoticed by Flight Crew

A huge gas leak on the runway at Newark Liberty International Airport caused the cancellation of United Flight 170 to Venice in June. The scariest part, however, is that airport and airline personnel seemed to have been unaware of the leak until passengers saw it out of their windows and alerted them. A passenger-made video shows the gas leaking out of the plane’s left wing in huge quantities. Upon disembarkation, passengers were given hotel rooms and booked on later flights. United did not disclose details of the spill or what caused it to occur.

Oklahoma Thunder Lands to Find a Huge Dent in Their Aircraft

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Oklahoma Thunder Lands to Find a Huge Dent in Their Aircraft

After landing in Chicago, basketball players of the Oklahoma Thunder noticed that their Delta Air Lines charter plane seemed to have an issue that was a bit unnerving. Multiple athletes posted photos on social media in which the nose of the plane was apparently caved in. The airline released a statement speculating that the damage may have occurred when the plane hit a bird upon descent.

Storm Prevents Airplane from Landing

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Storm Prevents Airplane from Landing

Last month, a flight was kept from landing entirely thanks to a 100 mph windstorm. A viral video shows the Enter Air aircraft shaking violently as it attempted to land during Storm Herwart in Salzburg, Austria. The airplane’s pilot was able to briefly touch down on the runway before he was forced to take off again and land back in Frankfurt, Germany with all passengers and crew members safe and sound. For more excellence in flying, check out the best airlines in the world of 2017.

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The 17 Scariest Airplane Moments of 2017

The 17 Scariest Airplane Moments of 2017 Gallery