Date: November 12, 1996
The world’s deadliest mid-air crash involved Saudia Flight 763 and Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907 over the city of Charkhi Dadri in northern India.
The Saudia-operated Boeing 747 was bound for Dhahran from Delhi while the Kazakhstan Airlines Ilyushin II-76 was bound for Indira airport from Shymkent when they collided, killing 312 people on board the former and 37 on the latter.
The crash occurred after the Ilyushin aircraft was cleared to descend to 15,000 feet, but then descended past that level to 14,500 feet while the 747 was ascending in the opposite direction. By the time the air traffic controller could warn of the proximity between the two aircraft it was too late.
The tail of the Kazakhstan plane cut through the Saudia wing, causing the aircraft to go into a rapidly descending spiral, while the Ilyushin entered a gentler but still fast and uncontrolled descent.
The captain of a passing US Air Force aircraft saw the crash and described a “a large cloud lit up with an orange glow”. A number of factors were found to have caused the crash, including the failure of the Kazakhstan Airlines pilot to follow the ATC instructions.