The world reacted with horror over the mistaken shootdown of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 by the Iranians. The shootdown killed 176 people including 82 Iranians. What made that tragedy even worse was the fact that Flight 752 had just taken off from Tehran’s international airport. 

This highlighted a common problem among disasters of this type: poor command and control among air defense units that in many cases misidentified commercial aircraft for military targets. In this case, the pucker factor was unusually high with Iranian ADA units as they had just launched a missile attack on the U.S. bases in Iraq and were expecting a quick response. 

But this was far from an isolated incident. Our recent history is littered with civilian aircraft that were shot down mistakenly… and in some cases on purpose. Below are some major tragedies of civilian airliners that have been shot down by military forces. 

Ukraine Flight 752 

As we mentioned above, this was a tragedy made worse by the fact that the aircraft wasn’t just overflying Iranian airspace: it had just taken off from Tehran just a few minutes before being shot down

We covered more of the details of the incident here.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 

In July of 2014, a Boeing 777 flying over eastern Ukraine was shot down about 30 miles west of the Ukraine/Russian border.  All 298 people on board (283 passengers and 16 crew) were killed.