Flying is one of the safest forms of transport. But what happens when tragedy strikes? From human error and accidents to mechanical faults and design flaws, the success of aviation history is punctuated with disaster and catastrophe. It’s rare, but it does happen. Follow experts as they determine what went wrong and work out how to prevent these horrific tragedies from happening again. Examine the wrecks and official records, and hear from eyewitnesses, passengers and aviation experts as we reconstruct some of the most tragic disasters in aviation history. Air Crash Investigation looks at what went wrong and how future disasters can be averted.
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Season 19, Episode 1 – “Borderline Tactics”
Experts investigating the crash of a plane near Guantanamo Bay uncover a danger to cargo pilots around the world.
Season 19, Episode 2 – “Death Race”
The story of a pilot who crashed while flying a Second World War fighter in a 450mph air race, and how his friend helped the authorities to discover what went wrong.
Season 19, Episode 03 – “Fatal Approach”
En route from Amsterdam to Cardiff, Wales, the crew of KLM Cityhopper Flight 433 report an engine problem and head back to the airport. But just as they’re about to touch down, the dual turboprop banks sharply to the right, the wing grazes the ground, and the aircraft crashes and breaks apart on a field next to the runway. Of the 24 people on board, two passengers and the captain are dead. And when investigators from the Dutch Safety Board pore over the evidence, they determine that a minor circuitry problem sparked a cascading series of fatal errors.
Season 19, Episode 04 – ” Borderline Tactics (American International Airways 808) ”
An American cargo plane attempts a difficult landing at the US naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. With the runway just a few meters from the armed border, the maneuver requires avoiding Cuban airspace. But something goes terribly wrong on its final approach, and the DC-8 crashes at the end of the runway. At first, investigators wonder if Cuba somehow played a role in the crash, but they eventually uncover an invisible culprit that threatens the lives of cargo pilots everywhere.
Season 19, Episode 05 – ” Deadly Pitch ”
Flight disasters revisited and explained.
Season 19, Episode 06 – ” Death Race (2011 Reno Air Races)”
Flying just a few hundred feet above the desert, six single-engine WW2 fighter planes get into position for the highlight event of the Reno Air Races. And with 30,000 spectators watching from below, they fly an eight-mile oval at close to 450 miles per hour. Competing in a highly-modified P-51 Mustang called ‘The Galloping Ghost’, local legend Jimmy Leeward is determined to set a new speed record. But half-way through the race, his plane suddenly pitches up, spirals out of control, and crashes onto the tarmac in front of the stands. It’s one of the worst air race crashes of all time, and investigators call on the pilot’s close friend to help them.
Season 19, Episode 07 – “Lethal limits”
En route from Moscow to Perm, Russia, Aeroflot Nord Flight 821 is on its final approach when the plane nosedives and crashes onto the trans-Siberian railway. All that’s left of the Boeing 737 is charred wreckage. All 88 people on board are confirmed dead. At first, investigators suspect a known design flaw in the aircraft’s rudder. But as they dig deeper, they make a series of shocking discoveries that will result in calls to transform the country’s aviation system.
Season 19, Episode 08 – “Deadly Descent”
En route from Indonesia to Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific Flight 780 is high over the South China Sea when both of the plane’s engines fail, turning the Airbus A-330 into a 200-ton glider. Declaring a Mayday-and determined to avoid a disastrous ocean ditching-the captain takes over manual control of the aircraft and manages to power up only one engine by very slowly increasing the throttle. But then the misfiring engine won’t let him slow down for landing.
Season 19, Episode 09 – “Football Tragedy”
With Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team on board, LaMia Flight 2933 is on its final approach to Medellin, Columbia when the crew suddenly declares a fuel emergency. Before air traffic control even has time to clear a path, the plane crashes on the crest of a mountain, killing nearly everyone on board. With the soccer world in mourning, investigators face incredible pressure to figure out what happened. And as they pore over the evidence, they uncover a disturbing tale of greed and a deadly gamble.
Season 19, Episode 10 – “Slam Dunk”
En route from Washington, D.C. to Columbus, Ohio, United Express Flight 6291 is on its final approach when the high-performance twin turboprop crashes just a mile from the runway. Three survivors emerge from the inferno, but the disaster claims the lives of the three crewmembers and the other two passengers on board. The charred remains leave little for investigators to work with. That is, until the cockpit voice recorder reveals the smoking gun. Last in the series.