The first fatal aviation accident was the crash of a Rozière balloon near Wimereux, France, on June 15, 1785, killing its inventor Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier as well as the other occupant, Pierre Romain. The first involving a powered aircraft was the crash of a Wright Model A aircraft at Fort Myer, Virginia, in the United States on September 17, 1908, injuring its co-inventor and pilot, Orville Wright, and killing the passenger, Signal Corps Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge.
2,996: The deadliest aviation-related disaster of any kind, considering fatalities on both the aircraft and the ground, was the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. On that morning four aircraft traveling on transcontinental flights from East Coast airports to California were hijacked after takeoff, and used in four separate suicide attacks against major American landmarks by 19 Islamic terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda. American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were intentionally crashed into the North and South Towers respectively of the World Trade Center, destroying both buildings in less than two hours. The World Trade Center crashes killed 2,753, the vast majority of fatalities being occupants of the World Trade Center towers or emergency personnel responding to the disaster. In addition, 184 were killed by American Airlines Flight 77 which crashed into the Pentagon (causing severe damage and partial destruction to the building's west side). 40 passengers were also killed when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a Somerset County Pennsylvania field after passengers fought back and prevented the hijackers from reaching their designated target. This brought the total number of casualties of the September 11 attacks to 2,996 (including the 19 terrorist hijackers).
583: The Tenerife airport disaster, which occurred on March 27, 1977, remains the accident with the highest number of airliner passenger fatalities. 583 people died when a KLM Boeing 747 attempted to take off without flight clearance, and collided with a taxiing Pan Am 747 at Los Rodeos Airport on the Canary Island of Tenerife, Spain. There were no survivors from the KLM aircraft; 61 of the 396 passengers and crew on the Pan Am aircraft survived. Pilot error was the primary cause, as the KLM captain began his takeoff run without obtaining air traffic control clearance. A contributing factor was the dense fog. The KLM flight crew could not see the Pan Am aircraft on the runway until immediately before the collision. The accident had a lasting influence on the industry, particularly in the area of communication. An increased emphasis was placed on using standardized phraseology in air traffic control (ATC) communication by both controllers and pilots alike. "Cockpit Resource Management" has also been incorporated into flight crew training. The captain is no longer considered infallible, and combined crew input is encouraged during aircraft operations.
520: The crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123 on August 12, 1985, is the single-aircraft disaster with the highest number of fatalities: 520 people died on board a Boeing 747. The aircraft suffered an explosive decompression from an incorrectly repaired aft pressure bulkhead, which failed in mid flight, destroying most of its vertical stabilizer and severing all of the hydraulic lines, making the 747 virtually uncontrollable. Pilots were able to keep the plane flying for 32 minutes after the mechanical failure before crashing into a mountain. All 15 crew members and 505 of the 509 passengers on board died. The death toll was exacerbated by delays in the rescue operation. Although a number of people survived the impact, by the time the Japanese rescue teams arrived at the crash site all but four had succumbed to their injuries.
349: On November 12, 1996, the world's deadliest mid-air collision was the Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision involving Saudia Flight 763 and Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907 over Charkhi Dadri, India. The collision was mainly the result of the Kazakh pilot flying lower than the assigned clearance altitude. All 349 passengers and crew on board both aircraft died. The Ramesh Chandra Lahoti Commission, empowered to study the causes, recommended the creation of the "semi-circular rule", to prevent aircraft from flying in opposite directions at the same altitude. The Civil Aviation Authorities in India made it mandatory for all aircraft flying in and out of India to be equipped with a Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), setting a worldwide precedent for mandatory use of TCAS.