Are pilot suicides becoming more common?
As yet another possible pilot suicide comes to light, killing all innocent passengers on board, we take a look at the pilot suicides over the past 40 years and how common it really is.
26 September 1976 – 12 fatalities
A Russian pilot stole an Antonov 2 airplane directed his aircraft into the block of flats in Novosibirsk where his divorced wife lived.
22 August 1979 – 4 fatalities
A 23 year old male mechanic who had just been fired entered a hangar at Bogotá Airport, Colombia and stole a military HS-748 transport plane. He took off and crashed the plane in a residential area.
July 1994 – 1 fatality
A Russian Air Force engineer stole the aircraft at the Kubinka AFB to commit suicide. The aircraft crashed when there was no more fuel left.
21 August 1994 – 44 fatalities
A Royal Air Maroc ATR-42 airplane crashed in the Atlas Mountains shortly after takeoff from Agadir, Morocco. The accident was suggested to have been caused by the captain disconnecting the autopilot and directing the aircraft to the ground deliberately. The Moroccan Pilot’s Union challenged these findings.
19 December 1997 – 104 fatalities
Silk Air Flight 185, a Boeing 737 en route from Jakarta, Indonesia to Singapore, crashed in Indonesia following a rapid descent from cruising altitude. Indonesian authorities were not able to determine the cause of the accident. It has been suggested by amongst others the U.S. NTSB that the captain may have committed suicide by switching off both flight recorders and intentionally putting the Boeing 737 in a dive, possibly when the first officer had left the flight deck. During 1997 the captain experienced multiple work-related difficulties, particularly during the last 6 months. Also at the time of the accident the captain was experiencing significant financial difficulties, which was disputed by the Indonesian investigators.
11 October 1999 – 1 fatality
An Air Botswana captain who had been grounded for medical reasons took off in an ATR-42. He made several demands over the radio and finally stated he was going the crash the plane. He caused the plane to crash into two parked ATR-42 aircraft on the platform at Gaborone Airport, Botswana.
October 1999 – 217 fatalities
Egypt Air Flight 990, a Boeing 767, entered a rapid descent some 30 minutes after departure from New York-JFK Airport. This happened moments after the captain had left the flight deck. During the investigation it was suggested that the accident was caused by a deliberate act by the relief first officer. However, there was no conclusive evidence. The NTSB concluded that the accident was a “result of the relief first officer’s flight control inputs. The reason for the relief first officer’s actions was not determined.” The suggestions of a deliberate act were heavily disputed by Egyptian authorities.
29 November 2013 – 33 fatalities
LAM Flight 470 entered a rapid descent while en route between Maputo and Luanda and crashed in Namibia. Preliminary investigation results indicate that the accident was intentional. The captain made control inputs that directed the plane to the ground, shortly after the first officer had left the flight deck.
March 8th 2014 – 239 fatalaties
MH370: Probabale pilot suicide but not proven.