Aviation 'disasters' making headlines in 2017

2017-12-29 16:42 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cape Town – The world can breathe a collective sigh of relief as 2017 saw no major aviation disasters.

Apart from the inhumane treatment of customers by some airlines, a few gruesome bird strikes and some flight cancellations due to severe weather conditions, 2017 has been a fairly good year in the aviation industry.

ALSO SEE: Avoid disaster with these 10 travel tips from the experts

What could have possibly been the worst aviation disaster in 2017 was averted when an Air Canada jet nearly landed on four planes!

With no fatal accidents, zero reports of planes getting sucked into the Bermuda triangle and aviation terrorism non-existent in 2017, we’ve rounded up some other factors that made headlines in aviation this year.

Bird strikes

Bird strikes are actually more dangerous than you would think and often cause extensive damage to planes.

From a Delta Airlines Boeing being struck by a bird mistaken for UFO or Superman (it hit with a quite a force) to bird corpses left dangling from planes after impact, bird strikes have resulted in emergency landings and damages that cost a fortune to repair.

There was also a local bird strike that caused a Mango flight to turn-around after one of the plane’s engines was damaged just after take-off.

SEE: WATCH: Mango plane's engine damaged in bird strike at OR Tambo

2017 saw the invention of the Robird – a robotic falcon that will keep airports bird-free and is deemed to be the answer to bird strikes.

According to some studies however, researchers say drones that hit large planes can cause more damage than birds of the same size. Yikes!

The impact of severe weather

From Bali’s volcano to heavy snowfall in Europe, a hurricane off SA’s east coast to a string of hurricanes in the Atlantic ocean close to USA, the weather has at times been disastrous resulting in a number of flight delays and cancellations that left flyers with thinner wallets and unhappy hearts.

SEE: Snow delays: 4 Things to do while you're stuck at the airport

There was also a daring Delta Air Lines crew that flew in and out of Puerto Rico as Hurricane Irma's wind and rain approached!


However, one of the biggest weather impacts has certainly been Bali’s volcano which threatened to erupt several times this year and yet remains in one piece after causing many holiday cancellations and damaging the island’s tourism industry and economy.

ALSO SEE: Worst plane disaster averted: Lighting should have alerted pilots of potential disaster

In-flight, airport and airline drama

If an award was to be given for the most controversial airline, United Airlines will grab this title after a video of police officers dragging a male passenger from an overbooked United Airlines flight sparked uproar on social media.

A case was opened which went on for a while, and in between a few other incidents occurred with the airline including a disruptive passenger wearing a Trump cap delaying a flight by 8 hours and in another incident, a dog died on one of the airline’s delayed flights.

However, in-flight drama does not stop there as another dog incident on board occurred when an American Airlines passenger was removed from the flight after yelling at a flight attendant while letting her dog run through the cabin.

Meanwhile locally, a recent racism incident on board a British Airways flight operated by Comair, that involved popular music duo Black Motion caused a sensation.


In another local aviation drama of note, two South African passengers were taken into custody for making alleged bomb threats at OR Tambo International Airport. The airport spokesperson Leigh Gunkel-Keuler says it “follows a zero-tolerance approach to bomb threats, irrespective of the circumstances.”

This is a serious offence locally and internationally as in another more recent incident, a wi-fi network called 'Bomb on board' caused a Turkish Airlines emergency landing!

SEE: Bombs away! How to get through airport security smoothly

Bomb threats and jokes have affected flights as much as airline glitches, strikes and economic crisis.

While there were many strikes and cost-cutting strategies that occurred this year, two that stand out most are South African Airways’ changes to domestic and regional routes as part of its strategy to save on operating costs, and American Airlines' scheduling glitch that left thousands of flights without a captain, co-pilot or both between the busy December period.

WATCH: 'Worst aviation' disaster averted as Air Canada jet nearly lands on four planes

Travel bans and restrictions

US President Donald Trump’s numerous travel bans and restrictions have certainly taken up much of aviation news in 2017.

SEE: UPDATE: US Travel ban against six mostly Muslim countries to go ahead

From his laws banning electronics on board to banning entire nations, it is going to be interesting (and painful) to see what Trump has in store in 2018…

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