Though the public generally thinks of air travel as safer the automobile , throughout the history of aviation there have always been freak accidents that fall under everyday mechanical failure.
On March 28, 1933 an Imperial Airways flight went down in Belgium due to a fire, possibly started by a passenger attempting to commit suicide, and caused the plane to crash killing all 15 aboard. This is thought to be the first act of sabotage on a commercial airliner.
On October 10, 1933 a United Airlines flight went down in Indiana; the aircraft was destroyed by an explosive device using nitroglycerin. This was the first case that was actually proven to be sabotage in the history of commercial aviation.
October 5, 1947 an American Airlines flight crashed in El Paso Texas. As a prank, a captain riding in the jump seat engaged the gust lock in flight. The command pilot, not knowing the gust lock had been engaged, rolled the elevator trim tab with no response. When the jump seat captain disengaged the gust lock, the aircraft went into a steep dive, executed part of an outside roll and become inverted. Neither the command nor the jump seat captain had seat belts on and they accidentally feathered No. 1, 2 and 4 engines when they hit the controls with their heads. No one realized it at the time but the feathering reduced power and allowed the co-pilot, who was strapped in, to pull out of the dive 350 feet from the ground.
August 9, 1959 the a Canadian Pacific flight went down. The DC-3 disintegrated in flight outside of Quebec killing all 23 aboard. A dynamite bomb was planted in the forward baggage compartment by Albert Guay, a jeweler, in a plot to kill his wife who was a passenger on the plane. Guay, who assembled the bomb, had his accomplice; Marguerite Pitre air expressed the bomb on the aircraft. Ms. Pitre’s brother, a clockmaker, helped make the timing mechanism. The insurance policy was for 10,000 dollars. All three were hanged for their crimes.
On November 1, 1955 a United Airlines flight out of Denver crashed 11 minutes after takeoff. John Graham placed a dynamite bomb in his mother’s luggage in the No. 4 cargo hold in order to collect $37,500 in insurance. A delayed flight caused the bomb to detonate over flat land rather than the mountains as planned. Forty-four people were killed. Graham never showed any remorse for his actions and refused to file any appeals. He was executed for the crime on November 11, 1956.
March 23, 1994 an Aeroflot flight crashed in Russia; the aircraft crashed after a captain allowed his child to manipulate the controls of the plane. The pilot’s 11-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son were taking turns in the pilot’s seat. While the boy was flying, he inadvertently disengaged the autopilot linkage to the ailerons and put the airliner in a bank of 90 degrees which caused the nose to drop sharply. The co-pilot pulled back on the yoke to obtain level flight but the plane stalled. With his seat pulled all the way back, the co-pilot in the right hand seat could not properly control the aircraft. After several stalls and rapid pull-ups the plane went into a spiral descent. In the end, the co-pilot initiated a 4.8g pull-up and nearly regained a stable flight path but the aircraft struck the ground in an almost level attitude killing all 75 aboard.
Though this is only a few of the aviation accidents on record it is enough to know that much stricter personnel and maintenance regulations are needed for many airlines.