I am aware a lot of psychological tests are given to pilots to prevent such a scenario, but those can hardly be perfect, so has any aviation accident been caused (or attempted) by the conscious intention of one of the crew?

  • $\begingroup$ I have purged all comments on this question and moved them to a chat room. Further discussion about this question should take place there, or on Meta. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 6:27

3 Answers 3


Confirmed (or Highly Probable)

  • LAM Mozambique Airlines Flight 470: A report from the government of Mozambique states that the captain deliberately crashed an Embraer 190 in Namibia on November 29, 2013. Cockpit voice recorders were the primary evidence in the report, which found that the other crew members were locked out of the cockpit by the captain. There were 33 fatalities, and Mozambique Airlines was banned from flying in EU airspace. No psychological overview was done of the officer.
  • EgyptAir Flight 990: A Boeing 767 crashed near Nantucket (Massachusetts) on October 31, 1999, killing 217 people. It was found that the first officer, was responsible. The NTSB and the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority both conducted individual investigations. The Egyptian report states

    [the] First Officer . . . passed his full medical examination and psychiatric assessment, which was performed by the Egyptian Air Force Medical Council as part of his full medical examination for fitness to be a pilot in the Egyptian Air Force, on December 11, 1958. He passed his medical examination for his Commercial Pilot license on July 27, 1961. A psychiatric assessment was not conducted as part of the medical examination for the relief first officer’s medical review for his Commercial Pilot license. During his military and civilian flying career there was no reported history of psychiatric consultation nor any reports regarding his behavior, either professionally or in groups. . . . First, there is no evidence to support a conclusion that the First Officer intentionally dove the airplane into 142 the ocean in fact, the evidence available refutes such a theory, a determination confirmed by expert medical opinion, technical and human performance analysis.

    The NTSB did not agree that the most probable cause was a mechanical failure. Their conclusions, and the relevant rebuttals by the Egyptian investigators, can also be found here.

  • SilkAir Flight 185: On December 19, 1997, a 737 operated by SilkAir crashed in Indonesia, killing all 104 people on board. The aircraft was almost entirely obliterated. The Indonesian NTSC report (link broken at the moment) said that the cause was impossible to determine. The pilot appeared to be mentally stable, but there have been some doubts. Cockpit recorders stopped at some time, making the case different from that of, say, JetBlue Airways Flight 191 (see below). The NTSB was not happy, severely criticizing the Indonesian findings. Their analysis seem to rule out mechanical issues.

  • Royal Air Marco Flight 630: 44 people were killed in a crash in Morocco on August 24, 1994. A government investigation ruled it an intentional suicide

  • Japan Airlines Flight 350: The crash of a DC-8 on February, 1982, was caused by actions taken by the captain before being restrained by other crew members. Because of their actions, the majority of the people on board survived.

  • 1999 Air Botswana Incident: On October 11, 1999, an Air Botswana pilot deliberately crashed an Aérospatiale ATR-42 into two other planes on the tarmac at Sir Seretse Khama airport, killing only the pilot. He was the only one on board, having taken the plane rogue and then flown it about the airport for hours. All the planes were destroyed, though the other two were unoccupied, as the airport had been effectively shut down. The pilot was on medical suspension.

'Close Calls' but no resultant accidents

  • JetBlue Airways Flight 191: Midway through the flight, the captain of the aircraft appeared to suffer a nervous breakdown. He began yelling about religion and was eventually subdued by passengers after being locked out of the cockpit by the first officer. He was charged with "interference with a flight crew", according to the FBI, which said

    As the plane was leaving JFK and climbing in altitude in its scheduled five-hour flight, [the captain] said something to the first officer (FO) about being evaluated by someone, but the FO did not know what he meant. [The captain] then talked about his church and the need to “focus” and asked the FO to take the controls and work the radios. [The captain] began talking about religion, but, according to the FO, his statements were not coherent.

I also found the same incidences as cpast, from Yahoo! News.

On some of the flights listed, the results of the investigations deemed the pilots obviously mentally unstable. On others, though, the conclusions were disputed, and it may not be possible to truly prove the cases one way or another.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Also, don't forget FedEx 705 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Express_Flight_705 $\endgroup$
    – slookabill
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 22:39
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @slookabill I considered that, but dismissed it, because it was more of a hijacking, and by a non-crew member (at least, not a crew member on that flight). $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 22:40
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Why providing the names of the crew members? I doesn't add to the value of the answer, but it may hurt their families who are not responsible. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 22:45
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @mins any damage would have been done already, many of these accidents are several years in the past. The families will have protection against harassment by now. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 23:17
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @jwenting As far as I know that wasn't the crew $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 10:17
  • EgyptAir 990
  • SilkAir 185
  • JAL 350
  • LAM Mozambique 470
  • Royal Air Maroc 630

Those are 5 I found in very little searching. Some of them are disputed (e.g. Egypt's aviation authority maintains EgyptAir was a mechanical issue, the NTSB determined it was intentionally crashed), but these have all been identified by investigators as probable intentional crashes by flight crew. This would be far from the first time this happened. In LAM Mozambique, the copilot was locked out of the cockpit. In EgyptAir 990, the relief first officer did it when the captain stepped out; the captain made it back in but couldn't regain control.

As for attempts, Fedex 705 is a notable attempt by an off-duty second officer deadheading on a Fedex plane to hijack the plane and crash it into Fedex headquarters.


According to an article on Plane accidents , since 1982, the pilots committing suicide have killed at least 421 people.


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