List of airliner shootdown incidents

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In the history of commercial aviation, there have been many airliner shootdown incidents which have been caused intentionally or by accident. This is a chronologically ordered list meant to document instances where airliners have been brought down by gunfire or missile attacks, including wartime incidents, rather than terrorist bombings or sabotage.


Kaleva OH-ALL[edit]

Main article: Kaleva (airplane)

Junkers Ju 52-3/mge "Kaleva" OH-ALL was a civilian transport and passenger plane operated by the Finnish carrier Aero O/Y, shot down by two Soviet Ilyushin DB-3 bombers on June 14, 1940, while en route from Tallinn, Estonia, to Helsinki, Finland.[1] This occurred during the Interim Peace between Finland and the Soviet Union, three months after the end of the Winter War, and a year before the Continuation War began. A few minutes after taking off in Tallinn, Kaleva was intercepted by two Soviet Ilyushin DB-3T torpedo bombers. The bombers opened fire with their machine guns and badly damaged Kaleva, causing it to ditch in water a few kilometers northeast of Keri lighthouse. All 9 passengers and crew members on board were killed.[2]


Main article: PK-AFV

PK-AFV, also known as Pelikaan, was a Douglas DC-3 (Dakota) airliner operated by KNILM from 1937 to 1942. On March 3, 1942, while on a flight from Bandung, Netherlands East Indies, to Broome, Australia, the plane was attacked by three Japanese Mitsubishi A6M fighter planes; PK-AFV crash-landed on a beach near Broome. Four passengers were killed. Among its cargo were diamonds worth at the time an estimated £150,000–300,000 (in 2010 an approximate A$20–40 million), and the vast majority of these were lost or stolen following the crash.[3][4]

BOAC Flight 777[edit]

Main article: BOAC Flight 777

BOAC Flight 777, a scheduled British Overseas Airways Corporation civilian airline flight on 1 June 1943 from Portela Airport in Lisbon, Portugal, to Bristol (Whitchurch) Airport near Bristol, England, was attacked by eight German Junkers Ju 88s and crashed into the Bay of Biscay, killing several notable passengers, including English actor Leslie Howard.[5]


Cathay Pacific VR-HEU[edit]

VR-HEU, a four-engined propeller-driven Douglas DC-4 airliner operated by Cathay Pacific Airways,[6] en route from Bangkok to Hong Kong on July 23, 1954, was shot down by People's Liberation Army Air Force Lavochkin La-7 fighters off the coast of Hainan Island, killing ten on board.[7][8][9]

El Al Flight 402[edit]

Main article: El Al Flight 402

El Al Flight 402, a Lockheed L-049 Constellation pressurized four-engine propliner, registered 4X-AKC, was an international passenger flight from Vienna, Austria, to Tel Aviv, Israel, via Istanbul, Turkey, on July 27, 1955. The aircraft strayed into Bulgarian airspace, refused to land, and was shot down by two Bulgarian MiG-15 jet fighters several kilometers away from the Greece border near Petrich, Bulgaria. All seven crew and fifty-one passengers on board the airliner were killed.[10][11]



Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114[edit]

Libyan Airlines Flight 114 was a regularly scheduled flight from Tripoli, Libya, via Benghazi to Cairo. At 10:30 on February 21, 1973, the Boeing 727 left Tripoli, but became lost with a combination of bad weather and equipment failure over northern Egypt around 13:44 (local). It entered Israeli-controlled airspace over the Sinai Peninsula, was intercepted by two Israeli F-4 Phantom II fighters, refused to land, and was shot down. Of the 113 people on board, 5 survived, including the co-pilot.[12][13]

Korean Air Lines Flight 902[edit]

Korean Air Lines Flight 902 (KAL902, KE902) was a civilian airliner shot down by Soviet Sukhoi Su-15 fighters on April 20, 1978, near Murmansk, Russia, after it violated Soviet airspace and failed to respond to Soviet interceptors. Two passengers were killed in the incident. 107 passengers and crew survived after the plane made an emergency landing on a frozen lake.[14]

Air Rhodesia Flight RH825[edit]

Air Rhodesia Flight RH825, was a scheduled flight between Kariba and Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe), that was shot down on September 3, 1978, by Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) guerrillas using a Strela 2 missile. Eighteen of the fifty-six passengers survived the crash, but ten of the survivors were murdered by the guerrillas at the crash site.

Air Rhodesia Flight RH827[edit]

Air Rhodesia Flight RH827 was a scheduled flight between Kariba and Salisbury that was shot down on February 12, 1979, by ZIPRA guerrillas using a Strela 2 missile in similar circumstances to Flight RH825 five months earlier. None of the fifty-nine passengers or crew survived.[15]


Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870[edit]

Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870 crashed in the Tyrrhenian Sea on June 27, 1980. Around forty minutes after take off from Bologna, Italy, an unknown object was seen approaching the aircraft and soon after, the plane disappeared from radar screens. All eighty-one people on board were killed and parts of the wreckage were floating on the water. The cause of the crash is unknown, but one of the leading theories is that it was shot down by NATO forces or jet fighters. This is supported by the then Italian Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga, who attributed the downing to French interceptors, later covered as a part of the Gladio clandestine operation by NATO.[16] On 23 January 2013 Italy’s top criminal court ruled that there was "abundantly" clear evidence that the flight was brought down by a missile.[17] However, there is also speculation that a terrorist bomb could have downed the DC-9.

Korean Air Lines Flight 007[edit]

Korean Air Lines Flight 007, also known as KAL 007 or KE007, was a Korean Air Lines Boeing 747 civilian airliner shot down by a Soviet Su-15TM fighter on September 1, 1983, near Moneron Island just west of Sakhalin island. 269 passengers and crew, including US congressman Larry McDonald, were aboard KAL 007; there were no known survivors. An official investigation concluded that the course deviation was likely caused by pilot error in configuring their air navigation system.

Polar 3[edit]

Main article: Polar 3

On February 24, 1985, the Polar 3, a research airplane of the Alfred Wegener Institute, was shot down by guerrillas of the Polisario Front over West Sahara. All three crew members died. Polar 3 was on its way back from Antarctica and had taken off in Dakar, Senegal, to reach Arrecife, Canary Islands.[18]

Air Malawi 7Q-YMB[edit]

On November 6, 1987, an Air Malawi Shorts Skyvan 7Q-YMB was shot down while on a domestic flight from Blantyre, Malawi to Lilongwe. The flight plan took it over Mozambique where the Mozambican Civil War was in progress. The aircraft was shot down near the Mozambican town of Ulongwe. The eight passengers and two crew on board were killed.[19]

Iran Air Flight 655[edit]

Main article: Iran Air Flight 655

Iran Air Flight 655 (IR655) was a commercial flight operated by Iran Air that flew from Bandar Abbas, Iran to Dubai, UAE. On July 3, 1988, towards the end of the Iran-Iraq War, the aircraft flying IR655 was shot down by the U.S. Navy Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes when it fired a SM-2MR surface-to-air missile. The airplane was destroyed between Bandar Abbas and Dubai, killing all 290 passengers and crew. It was later claimed by United States Government that USS Vincennes was in Iranian waters at the time of the attack, and IR655, an Airbus A300, was misidentified as an Iranian F-14.[20]

T&G Aviation DC-7[edit]

On December 8, 1988 a Douglas DC-7 chartered by the US Agency for International Development was shot down over Western Sahara by the Polisario Front killing 5. Leaders of the movement said the plane was mistaken for a Moroccan Lockheed C-130. The aircraft was to be used to spray insecticide to control a locust outbreak.


September 1993 Transair Georgian Airline Shootdowns[edit]

In September 1993, three airliners belonging to Transair Georgia were shot down by missiles and gunfire in Sukhumi, Abkhazia, Georgia.

Lionair Flight LN 602[edit]

Main article: Lionair Flight LN 602

Lionair Flight LN 602, operated by an Antonov An-24RV, fell into the sea off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka under mysterious circumstances on September 29, 1998. The aircraft departed Jaffna-Palaly Air Force Base on a flight to Colombo and disappeared from radar screens just after the pilot had reported depressurization. Initial reports indicated that the plane had been shot down by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels. All seven crew and forty-eight passengers were killed.[21]


2001 Siberia Airlines Flight 1812[edit]

On 4 October 2001, Tu-154 crashed over the Black Sea. The plane may have been hit by S-200 surface to air missile, fired from the Crimea peninsula during an exercise of Ukrainian military. All on board (66 passengers and 12 crew) were killed. Then President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma and several high commanders of the military later expressed their condolences to the relatives of the victims.[22]

2003 Baghdad DHL attempted shootdown incident[edit]

On November 22, 2003, shortly after takeoff from Baghdad, Iraq, an Airbus A300 cargo plane owned by European Air Transport (a subsidiary of the German express-mail service DHL) was struck on the left wing tip by a surface-to-air missile. Severe wing damage resulted in a fire and complete loss of hydraulic flight control systems. The pilots used differential engine thrust to fly the plane back to Baghdad, and were able to land without any injuries or major aircraft damage. This was the second time a plane had been landed after entirely losing hydraulics and using differential engine thrust as the only pilot input (the previous example being United Airlines Flight 232), but it was the first time it had been done without injury or additional significant damage to the aircraft.[citation needed]

2007 Balad aircraft crash[edit]

On January 9, 2007, an Antonov An-26 crashed while attempting a landing at Balad Air Base in Iraq. Although poor weather is blamed by officials, witnesses claim they saw the plane being shot down, and a terrorist group has claimed responsibility. Thirty-four of the thirty-five civilian passengers on board were killed.[citation needed]

2007 Mogadishu TransAVIAexport Airlines Il-76 crash[edit]

On March 23, 2007, a TransAVIAexport Airlines Ilyushin Il-76 airplane crashed in outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia, during the 2007 Battle of Mogadishu. Witnesses, including a Shabelle reporter, claim they saw the plane shot down, and Belarus has initiated an anti-terrorist investigation, but Somalia insists the crash was accidental. All eleven Belarussian civilians on board were killed.[citation needed]

Near misses[edit]

2002 Mombasa attacks[edit]

Main article: 2002 Mombasa attacks

On November 28, 2002, two shoulder-launched Strela 2 (SA-7) surface-to-air missiles were fired at a Boeing 757 airliner owned by Israel-based Arkia Airlines as it took off from Moi International Airport in Mombasa. The missiles missed the plane, and it landed safely in Tel Aviv.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Virtualpilots - Tapauskaleva. Retrieved January 1, 2007.
  2. ^ *Petrov, Pavel (2008). Punalipuline Balti Laevastik ja Eesti 1939-1941 (in Estonian, translated from Russian). Tänapäev. ISBN 978-9985-62-631-3. 
  3. ^ Wills, Juliet; Van Velzen, Marianne (2006), The Diamond Dakota mystery, Allen & Unwin, ISBN 978-1-74114-745-2 
  4. ^
    • Tyler, William H (1987), Flight of Diamonds : the story of Broome's war and the Carnot Bay diamonds, Hesperian Press, ISBN 978-0-85905-105-7 
  5. ^ Rosevink, Ben and Lt Col Herbert Hintze. "Flight 777." FlyPast, Issue No. 120, July 1991.
  6. ^ ASN Aircraft accident Douglas C-54A-10-DC VR-HEU Hainan Island - Aviation Safety Network
  7. ^ Accident details - VR-HEU - Plane Crash Info
  8. ^ VR-HEU Account by passenger: Valerie Parish - Major Commercial Airline Disasters
  9. ^ VR-HEU - The Life & Times of James Harper
  10. ^ "ASN record". 
  11. ^ Staff writer (August 8, 1955). "Through the Curtain". Time. Retrieved March 10, 2011. 
  12. ^ List of 727 incidents.
  13. ^ Aerial intrusions by Civil and Military Aircraft in a Time of Peace. Phelps, John Maj. Military Law Review. Vol 107 Winter 1985 Page 288
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "Description of Air Rhodesia Flight RH827". Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  16. ^ "Strage di Ustica, nuove indagini Sentito Cossiga: un missile francese". 2009-12-24. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  17. ^ "Italian court: Missile caused 1980 Mediterranean plane crash; Italy must pay compensation". The Washington Post. Associated Press. 23 January 2013. [dead link]
  18. ^ Aviation safety network - Report on Polar 3. Retrieved April 18, 2009.
  19. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Shorts SC.7 Skyvan 3-100 7Q-YMB Ulongue". Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  20. ^ Military Blunders – Iran Air Shot Down – 3 July 1988
  21. ^ Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved November 23, 2006.
  22. ^ Wines, Michael (October 14, 2001). "After 9 Days, Ukraine Says Its Missile Hit A Russian Jet". The New York Times.