There are many examples of aircraft striking trees during a crash sequence, usually with high fatality rates.

Have any airliners struck* one or more trees and proceeded to successfully land on a runway at an airport without any fatalities?

*Struck in this case meaning physical contact during flight which caused significant damage beyond scratches, such as denting, broken lights, partial loss of lift and/or control.

If I understand the terminology correctly, these incidents would be "Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT)" with subsequent airport landing without loss of life.

The closest I'm aware of is Scandinavian Airlines Flight 751 which lost thrust from both its engines and glided mostly into a clearing, striking trees as it went down.

Disclaimer: Long-time lurker, not a pilot, just enjoy the community and learning about aviation safety.

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    $\begingroup$ This is anecdotal and doesn’t involve an airliner, but I once flew into a small airfield in central Texas (which shall remain nameless). When I asked for fuel in the FBO, the owner said, “No problem.” Then he turned and yelled out the door, “Hey, Needles! We need fuel on the Piper!” Then he asked me if I knew why they called him needles... As it turns out, the guy flies a WWII B-25 in air shows. Once, upon returning to the airport, he got sloppy on approach and dragged the landing gear of his warbird through several pine trees on his way in. He was picking pine needles out for over an hour... $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 16:23
  • $\begingroup$ @AaronHolmes That B-25 wouldn't be named Devil Dog, would it? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ Not an airliner, but there was a case in 2005 in which a Cessna P210N struck a tree on take-off. The pilot believed it was a birdstrike, and that the aircraft was undamaged, and continued towards Portugal. He diverted to Jersey upon the port wing fuel tank reading empty. Upon landing it was discovered that section of the port wing was missing: aaiu.ie/node/208 $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 5, 2020 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ These results might be skewed somewhat by the lack of trees near most airports. If you're off-track enough to be near trees, your landing/takeoff is already well off the line. $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 1:11
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    $\begingroup$ A firefighting DC10 impacted trees during a drop. Landed and needed some repairs. $\endgroup$
    – acpilot
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 2:43

2 Answers 2


Searching through the Aviation Herald database for incidences with the word tree, I found 3 cases:

  • An Eagle Air Let L410 contacted a tree during departure from Lankien in South Sudan. The right wing tip was damaged, but the aircraft continued to its destination, where the wing tip was repaired:

    Eagle Air Let L410 at Juba

  • A China Eastern Airbus A320 contacted trees during a go-around at Wenzhou after losing visual contact with the airport during approach. The damages were only found after landing though:

    A post flight inspection found scratch marks on the right main landing gear, slats and flaps of right main wing and the inlet of the right hand engine (CFM-56). An inspection of the right hand engine revaled damage (dents sized up to 0.2 mm) to all 36 fan blades, scratch marks (13cm in length) at and twigs embedded in the oil discharge.


    Due to the late decision by the crew the right hand wing, right hand engine and right hand main gear impacted and clipped treetops outside the airport perimeter.

  • A Cebu Pacific Airbus A320 came in contact with trees, but the damage was also only found after landing:

    a subsequent pilot inspection found branches and leaves embedded in the right hand main gear, the right main gear was leaking hydraulic fluid. The occurrence was rated a serious incident and is being investigated by Philippines's AIB.

  • $\begingroup$ Great finds! I wasn't aware of Aviation Herald. Your answer is very thorough and I appreciate the diligence. The Eagle Air flight meets the criteria, though all are fascinating stories. Thank you for your contribution, this is amazing! It's a tough choice, but I'm accepting American Airlines Flight 1572 primarily for being more dramatic. $\endgroup$
    – CodeShane
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 14:14

Yes, for example an MD-83 operating as American Airlines flight 1572 impacted trees on a ridgeline (and an ILS antenna!) on approach to Bradley Internal Airport in Connecticut in 1995.

It ultimately landed short with no fatalities and one "minor" injury.

The NTSB report AAR96-05 is currently here, but probably subject to link rot (so I'll post the actual text of a the link as an aid to re-finding it):


As with many accidents, "there was a lot going on at the time" and it's not clear from a cursory reading what meaningfully contributed (vs what was present but did not ultimately matter) to the fact that the aircraft was lower than the crew though it was, or thought it should be.

That incident made the local news at the time; it's probable that there have been many others around the world.

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    $\begingroup$ Note: Since you are afraid it might disappear, it seems like the Wayback Machine has copies as early as 2010 of that page $\endgroup$
    – Sumurai8
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 6:46
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    $\begingroup$ This is pretty close to ideal example as requested, thanks! Interesting read, there was certainly significant tree damage before striking the antenna - which couldn't have helped - but was clearly at the tail-end of the flight. $\endgroup$
    – CodeShane
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ And that's why ILS antennae are frangible, folks! $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ Report also available here. $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 1:03

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