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This is a list of aviation-related events from 1996:
- The T-6 Texan II is selected as the new primary trainer for the United States Armed Forces.
- Hildegarde Ferrera becomes the oldest person to parachute out of a plane, at 99 years old.
- February 6 – Birgenair Flight 301, a Boeing 757-225, crashes into the Atlantic Ocean soon after takeoff from Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, killing all 189 people on board. It remains the deadliest accident involving a Boeing 757.
- February 24 – A Cuban Air Force MiG-29UB fighter shoots down two Cessna Skymasters of the Cuban exile activist group Brothers to the Rescue off Havana, Cuba, killing four members of the group, including pilot Carlos Costa. A third Skymaster escapes.
- February 29 – WestJet, a Canadian airline, begins operations.
- February 29 – Faucett Flight 251, a Boeing 737-222, crashes into hills while on approach to Rodríguez Ballón International Airport in Arequipa, Peru, in darkness and fog, killing all 123 people on board.
- June 9 – The Swedish Air Force opens a new pilot training centre at Såtenäs
- June 9 – Eastwind Airlines Flight 517, a Boeing 737-200 with 53 people on board, experiences a rudder malfunction during a flight from Trenton-Mercer Airport in Trenton, New Jersey, to Richmond International Airport in Richmond, Virginia, which causes the airliner to roll involuntarily to the right twice. The plane lands at Richmond safely with only one person – a flight attendant – having suffering minor injuries. Investigation of the incident will help determine the cause of accidents involving United Airlines Flight 585 in 1991 and USAir Flight 427 in 1994.
- June 13 – The pilots of Garuda Indonesia Flight 865, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 with 275 people on board, abort their takeoff from Fukuoka Airport in Fukuoka, Japan, after the fan blade in engine number three separates. The aircraft catches fire, killing three people.
- July 6 – Delta Air Lines Flight 1288, a McDonnell Douglas MD-88 with 142 people on board, experiences an uncontained catastrophic turbine engine failure during its takeoff roll at Pensacola Regional Airport in Escambia County, Florida. The failure causes debris from the front compressor hub of the left engine to enter the passenger compartment, killing two passengers and injuring five others, two of them seriously. The pilot aborts the takeoff.
- July 13 – A Garuda Indonesia Airways DC-10 crashes on take-off from Fukuoka Airport, Japan, killing 3.
- July 15 – A Belgian C-130 Hercules carrying a Belgian crew of four and 37 young members of the Royal Netherlands Army crashes at Eindhoven Airport in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and catches fire. Unaware that the plane is carrying any passengers, responding firefighters focus on putting the fire out instead of rescuing survivors. Thirty-four passengers die.
- July 17 – Trans World Airlines Flight 800, a Boeing 747-131, explodes over the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, Long Island, New York, apparently due to a short circuit and ignition of fuel-air vapor in a fuel tank. All 230 people on board die.
- August 16 – Seven Russian men held captive by the Taliban in Kandahar, Afghanistan, since their Airstan Ilyushin Il-76 had been forced down over a year earlier on August 3, 1995, overpower their guards and escape in the plane, flying it to the United Arab Emirates.
- August 19 – Spair Airlines Flight PAR-3601, an Ilyushin Il-76T cargo aircraft, reports electrical problems over Valjevo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, 15 minutes after takeoff from Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. With its communication and navigation systems apparently disabled, the aircraft attempts to return to the airport in darkness and bad weather, flying low over Belgrade to find the runway by sight, but crashes short of the runway, killing the entire crew of 12.
- August 29 – Vnukovo Airlines Flight 2801, a Tupolev Tu-154M, crashes into the mountain Operafjellet at Svalbard, Norway, killing all 141 people on board. It remains the deadliest aviation accident ever to occur in Norway.
- October 2 – After its flight instruments malfunction, Aeroperu Flight 603, a Boeing 757-23A, crashes into the Pacific Ocean, near Pasamayo, Peru, killing all 70 people on board.
- October 8 – Three B-2 Spirits destroy 16 targets with 16 smart bombs at the Nellis Air Force Base range in Nevada.
- October 22 – Million Air Flight 406, a Boeing 707-323C with four people aboard, crashes into a Dolorosa neighborhood in Ecuador, ripping off rooftops and crashing in flames into a restaurant, killing the four aboard and 30 in the neighborhood and injuring 50.
- October 31 – TAM Transportes Aéreos Regionais Flight 402, a Fokker 100, crashes into a São Paulo, Brazil, neighborhood, killing all 96 people aboard and three on the ground.
- November 2 – A U.S. Air Force F-16CJ Fighting Falcon participating in Operation Southern Watch fires an AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missile at an Iraqi mobile surface-to-air missile radar near the 32nd parallel after its pilot receives a radar warning signal.
- November 4 – A U.S. Air Force F-16CJ participating in Operation Southern Watch fires an AGM-88 HARM at an Iraqi mobile surface-to-air missile radar near the 32nd parallel after its pilot receives a radar warning signal.
- November 12 – Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 763, a Boeing 747-168B carrying 312 people, and Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907, an Ilyushin Il-76 with 37 people aboard, collide over Charkhi Dadri, Haryana, India, killing all 349 people on board the two planes. It remains the deadliest mid-air collision in history.
- November 19 – While landing at Quincy Regional Airport in Quincy, Illinois, United Express Flight 5925, a Beechcraft 1900 operated by Great Lakes Aviation, collides at an intersection between two runways with a Beechcraft King Air on its takeoff roll, killing all 12 people aboard the United Express flight and both people in the King Air.
- November 23 – Three Ethiopian men seeking political asylum in Australia hijack Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961, a Boeing 767-260-ER flying from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya, with 172 other people on board. Not believing the flight crew's assertion that the plane lacked enough fuel to fly to Australia, they force it to remain in the air until it runs of out of fuel and ditches in the Indian Ocean 500 yards (457 m) off Grande Comore island near Mitsamiouli in the Comoros. The hijackers are among the 125 people killed; all 50 survivors are injured.
- December 15 – McDonnell Douglas and Boeing announce their merger into The Boeing Company. They will complete the merger on August 1, 1997.
- December 24 – After taking off from Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport, Connecticut, an Aircraft Charter Group, Inc., Learjet 35A with two people aboard disappears in fog and rain near Dorchester, New Hampshire, leading to an almost-three-year search for the missing aircraft – the longest missing-aircraft search in New Hampshire's history – and legislation requiring stricter emergency locator transmitter (ELT) standards. The aircraft's wreckage finally will be found on November 13, 1999, near Smarts Mountain in Grafton County, New Hampshire, about 20 miles (32 km) from where it took off.
- December 31 – Operation Provide Comfort II, the enforcement of a no-fly zone over northern Iraq by American, British, and French aircraft, concludes. It will be succeeded the next day by Operation Northern Watch, which also enforces the no-fly zone but without French participation.
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