17 of the most terrifying incidents in air travel history (don't read if you're a nervous flier)

Plane on fire
In September 2014, flames were seen bursting out of the engine of a Russia-bound plane (not pictured) shortly after take-off

1. When the propeller falls off

A Regional Express Airlines flight with 19 passengers flirted with disaster on Friday after one of its propellers fell off on the approach to Sydney Airport. 

The spinning propeller was reported to have detached itself from the shaft and flown over the wing without touching the Saab 340 aircraft, the airline confirmed.

The spinning propeller (not pictured) detached itself from the shaft and flew over the wing without touching the Saab 340 aircraft Credit: AP

The plane landed safely but the Australian carrier has since grounded five other aircraft with the same propeller gear boxes and shafts from its fleet of 55 Saab 340s.

Those on board the domestic flight from Albury, around 500 kilometres (300 miles) from Sydney, were "lucky in the extreme" that the propeller had not crashed into the fuselage or tail of the plane, noted Paul Cousin, president of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association.

2. The see-through engine

A San Francisco-bound American Airlines flight was forced to return to Phoenix last June after part of the plane’s engine cover fell off. An image of the damage was captured by a passenger.

The plane with 136 passengers on board landed safely at Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport just 20 minutes after take-off and none were injured. Both American Airlines and the US Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the incident.

3. Terrifying turbulence

Last May, a video recorded on board an Etihad flight showed passengers praying for their lives after their plane encountered "severe and unexpected turbulence" during a journey from Abu Dhabi to Jakarta.

An image of the exposed engine posted on Facebook by Ken Papagno Credit: Facebook/Ken Papagno

The clip, posted to Facebook by Dewi Rachmayani, shows passengers gripping their seats and screaming. Others can be heard shouting "Allahu Akbar" – an opening proclamation of every Islamic prayer. An air steward reportedly said: "I have been a flight attendant for 15 years, this is the first time I've experienced something like this."

Plane from Abu Dhabi encounters severe turbulence Plane from Abu Dhabi encounters severe turbulence

4. Who left the door open?

Last year, a Korean passenger jet was flying at 10,000ft when it was discoverd that one of its doors was still ajar. Passengers captured the sound of rushing air and describing scenes of chaos on board. 

Some reported nausea and ear pain during the flight, symptoms that resemble those reported during a slow loss of cabin pressure. Officials said there were no serious injuries or hospitalisations, though travellers were delayed by 15 hours.

5. The disintegrating engine

Back in October 2015, an air passenger in Chile captured the moment the plane’s engine began to fall apart as it took off. The Sky Airline flight from Santiago, the Chilean capital, to Copiapo, was forced to make an emergency landing after panels from the left engine were torn loose as it sped along the runway, moments before it took to the sky. Passengers were put on an alternative flight to allow the plane to undergo repairs.

The view from inside the plane Credit: Facebook / teletrece

6. A crack in the wall

Back in 2014, an American Airlines flight heading from San Francisco to Dallas made an emergency landing when the cabin's wall panels cracked loose. The Boeing 757 departed from San Francisco International Airport shortly and the captain decided to turn around an hour into the flight to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport because of a possible blown air duct. No one on the plane with 184 passengers and six crew members was hurt. Even though the plane's problem is related to pressurisation, the cabin did not lose pressure and oxygen masks did not deploy. James Wilson of Kyle, Texas shot video of the crack and posted it on his Facebook page so his wife, who was en route to Dallas to pick him up, would know what had happened in case of a crash.

Boeing 757 makes emergency landing after cabin panels crack loose Boeing 757 makes emergency landing after cabin panels crack loose

7. The flaming plane

A passenger on board captured the terrifying moment in September 2014 when flames burst out of a plane's engine shortly after take-off from Barcelona Airport. The passenger was on board a Transaero flight heading toward a city in Russia around 1100 miles east of Moscow when she noticed the fire coming from the plane's wing. The Boeing 767 was said to have begun to shake immediately after take-off and the plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Barcelona Airport. The flight crew were reported to have shut down the engine of the plane 30 seconds after the incident took place, and the plane spent over an hour in the air dumping fuel. The plane made a safe landing at Barcelona Airport and the passengers were able to carry on their journey to Russia on another flight the next day.

Terrifying moment plane engine catches on fire Terrifying moment plane engine catches on fire

8. A screw loose

The Reddit user Skips_LegDay posted these images back in November 2014, explaining: “So about halfway through my flight I heard a loud POP, looked out my window at a bolt that flew off the prop and broke through the outer pane.”

“People around me heard it and seemed nervous once they saw the source of the sound,” he added. “I got up and went to the flight attendant and quietly told her what happened, she came over to see it then called the pilot. He said it will be fine until we land as the cabin's pressurised.

“Once we landed and people stopped snapping pics, the pilot talked to me for a while. Said he's never seen this happen in over 25 years of flying,” the user said.

The incident comes just weeks after the right-side propeller of an Air Canada plane broke off and sliced through the cabin, striking a passenger on the head

9. Another flying propeller

An Air Canada passenger was injured in November 2014 after a plane propeller broke off and sliced through the cabin, striking her on the head. The flight from Calgary was forced to make an emergency landing that evening. The passenger, Christina Kurylo, was sitting in a window seat as the plane hit the runway and the right-side propeller snapped off, becoming lodged in the fuselage. The landing initially seemed to be going smoothly until passengers heard "a lot of rattling" as they touched down on the runway. The right landing gear then collapsed and sparks flew as the right undercarriage dragged along the tarmac. After the plane stopped, a moment's silence was broken by cheers and whistles from passengers who then had to hurry out of the cabin as it filled with smoke. Ms Kurylo was treated by paramedics and taken to hospital where she was discharged after six hours having suffered a concussion, sore neck and bruises on her head and shoulders.

Air Canada crash landing: propeller slices into window injuring passenger Air Canada crash landing: propeller slices into window injuring passenger

10. Turbulence (again)

An American Airlines jet encountered severe air turbulence in December 2014 shortly after taking off from Seoul, South Korea, prompting an unscheduled landing at Narita International Airport in Tokyo after 14 people asked for medical attention.  A passenger on the flight filmed the terrifying turbulence on his mobile phone. The airline says four passengers and a crew member needed hospital treatment, but none of those injuries are life-threatening.

Watch: terrifying plane turbulence caught on camera Watch: terrifying plane turbulence caught on camera

After the landing, passengers and crew members were evaluated and treated in Japan. American says there were 240 passengers on board and 15 crew members.

11. A drone near-miss

A drone came within 20ft of striking a passenger aircraft in 2014 shortly before it was due to land as Heathrow Airport, a report into the 'near-miss'  foundThe model helicopter passed dangerously close to the Airbus A320, 700ft above the ground on July 22 that year, according the report by the UK Airprox Board, the regulator.

12. Runway near-miss 

Also in July 2014, two passenger jets came seconds from crashing into each other at Barcelona airport. The footage of the heart-stopping moment caught on camera shows a Boeing 767 from the Russian airline UTair coming in to land on a runway at Barcelona's El Prat Airport. But with the plane just feet from touching down, an Aerolineas Argentineas Airbus A340 slowly taxis across the runway, forcing the still-airborne pilot to respond to the emergency by pulling back into the air. The quick-thinking pilot of the UTair jet landed the plane safely after circling around. Plane enthusiast Miguel Angel caught the moment on film, describing it as "one of the worst experiences I have ever had".

Planes almost collide in dramatic runway near-miss at Barcelona airport Planes almost collide in dramatic runway near-miss at Barcelona airport

13. Too close for comfort 

In a similar incident, a United Airlines pilot had a scare in May 2014 after coming in to land at Newark Airport in the US, only to find another plane taking off from a perpendicular runway just below.

14. Ryanair wings it

Not a high-speed collision this one, but it doesn't inspire passenger confidence when your pilot starts taxi-ing into other planes. This accident was filmed from on board an aircraft at Dublin Airport in October 2014.

Two Ryanair planes clip wings Two Ryanair planes clip wings

15. Close call over New York

A mid-air near miss was recorded over New York in June 2013, between a Delta 747 and a Shuttle America plane near JFK Airport. At one point they were only 200ft apart.

16. Wings collide on Boston runway

A Delta jet is seen clipping the tail of a much smaller plane as it taxis down the runway.

17. Snake on a plane

Less hairy for passengers than it was for the poor snake involved, this video shows what happens when a Samuel L Jackson film plot comes to life.

Snake clings to aircraft wing Snake clings to aircraft wing