JAL Flight 123
The crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123 in 1985 is the single-aircraft disaster with the highest number of fatalities. In this crash, 520 died on board a Boeing 747. The aircraft suffered an explosive decompression from an incorrectly repaired aft pressure bulkhead, which failed in mid flight and destroyed most of its vertical stabilizer, and severed all of the hydraulic lines, making the 747 virtually uncontrollable. The pilots were able to keep the plane flying for several minutes before crashing into a mountain. Remarkably, several people survived the impact, but by the time that the rescue teams could get there, all but four had died.
Artist's depiction of the Tenerife Disaster, which destroyed two Boeing 747 aircraft.
The March 27, 1977, Tenerife disaster remains the accident with the highest number of airliner passenger fatalities. In this disaster, 583 people died when a KLM Boeing 747 attempted take-off without clearance, and collided with a taxiing Pan Am 747 at Los Rodeos Airport on the island of Tenerife, Spain. Pilot error was the primary cause of this catastrophe.