From drunk or smoking pilots, to rescue planes getting stuck themselves, sometimes not everything goes according to plan. Here is a list of the most bizzare, jaw-dropping stories of 2018, involving ……….. Which one raised your eyebrows the most?

Tragic yet astonishing Horizon Air Q400 theft

Richard Russell, age 29, a ground service agent employed by Horizon Air stole a company-owned Bombardier Q400, a 76 passenger jet, at SeaTac Airport Friday, August 10th, at 7:32 PM, PDT.  With no one else on board, Russell took over the controls of the plane and flew south of the airport, over Puget Sound. He managed to perform several acrobatic maneuvers during his 75 minutes aloft, before crashing into Ketron Island, approximately 30 miles south of SeaTac Airport, into a wooded uninhabited part of the island.

On August 10, 2018, a Horizon Air ground service agent stole a company plane, performed acrobatic maneuvers for 75 minutes, then he crashed the plane. Learn how he did it.

Old habits die hard

Singapore airlines, All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL) all suffered from flight delays caused by their pilots showing up for duty...drunk. In JAL’s case, not only was their pilot arrested in London for exceeding the UK’s legal blood alcohol limit close to 10 times, but the situation also became the last straw for country’s authorities, prompting them to review and tighten airline pilot alcohol consumption rules.

The Japanese pilot who was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) on October 28, 2018, for being close to 10 times over the alcohol limit is just a cherry on top of reported cases where Japanese airline pilots had failed to board scheduled flights due to excessive drinking. 

Contrary to the airlines above, Air China’s pilot’s habits actually caused a scary incident mid-flight. On July 10th, the airline’s Boeing 737, carrying 153 passengers and nine crew onboard, en route from Hong Kong to Dalian, suddenly lost cabin pressure, prompting the plane to drop and the cabin's oxygen masks to be deployed. The preliminary report into the incident pointed to the co-pilot smoking an e-cigarette during the flight. Apparently, trying to hide the fact that he was smoking and without notifying the captain, he shut off the plane’s air-conditioning, causing oxygen levels to fall.

An emergency descent made by an Air China passenger plane after the cabin lost pressure on July 10, 2018, attributed to the co-pilot smoking in the cockpit.

Things got only worse for Nepal’s US-Bangla Airlines. On March 12th, upon landing at  Kathmandu’s International Airport, a Bombardier Q400 clipped the fence and crashed, bursting into flames. Out of the 71 people on board, 51 were killed in the accident. Preliminary investigation revealed that the captain was under severe emotional distress, possibly triggered by a female colleague’s remarks: rambling to the traffic controllers he chain-smoked during the entire flight, reportedly lighting a cigarette just three minutes before starting the descent.

A months-long investigation by the Nepali government into the deadly plane crash at an international airport in Kathmandu, has pointed to the fault of a pilot.

Do you speak English?

A Bogota-bound Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) flight was forced to divert to Cali, also in Colombia, on November 17, but encountered a rare (hopefully) problem. While approaching Cali airport, the traffic controller seemingly could not understand Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) captain’s request. Fortunately, the pilot of an Avianca Brazil flight, which had also been diverted to Cali, heard the conversation and jumped in to act as a translator between the Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) crew and the controller.

The language barrier between a diverted Lufthansa flight and a Cali air traffic controller led to a confusing, and potentially dangerous situation. Luckily, another pilot on an Avianca Brazil flight was here to save the day.