10 Costliest Mistakes in History

by Binupriya Tomy2 years ago

6 Anderson Air Force Base B-2 Accident in 2008 was one of the most expensive aircraft crashes with an estimated loss of $1.4 billion only on the aircraft. The crash was due to heavy rains leading to the faulty angle of attack and airspeed reading as the pressure transducers failed to function.
Anderson Air Force Base B-2
Anderson Air Force Base B-2. Image credit: Federal Aviation Administration/fire.tc.faa.gov via wikimedia.org

The first-ever crash of a B-2 Spirit stealth strategic bomber happened due to distorted data. According to the accident investigation report, the skewed information entered the control systems during takeoff. Airspeed was inaccurately calculated because of the moisture, and the pilot and co-pilot received minor injuries.

The cost of the aircraft was $1.4 billion. The aircraft was briefly under suspension until April when they took a “safety pause.” The accident could have been avoided if the B-2 program had come up with a solution to evaporate the moisture that caused the misreading. There was already a technique available to heat the sensors and help keep the moisture away before starting data calibrations. (source)


7 The Apollo 13 crew and the mission failed because of an oxygen tank explosion which happened due to an unusual combination of mistakes during manufacturing by the aerospace companies. The mission cost NASA $28 million.

The Apollo 13 crew
The Apollo 13 crew. Image credit: nasa.gov, nasa.gov

The spacecraft was damaged and the crew and ground support realized it only after 56 hours into the flight. When adjusted for inflation, around $280 billion was invested on landing men on the moon between 1960 and 1973. NASA spent $49.4 billion ($482 billion with inflation) in three years prior to the moon landing.

An explosion caused a rupture on oxygen tank no. 2 and led to the loss of their spacecraft only four hours before re-entry. The tank was made only to measure heat up to 80 F°, so extreme heat made the tank explode. With the command service module and the lunar module, NASA had spent $38 billion and $28 billion respectively making Project Apollo one of the most expensive projects in the world. (1, 2)


8 The Walkie Talkie building in the UK cost the developers a multi-billion British pound bill after the heat ray effect caused by the building to melt cars in summer. The issues with the design flaw of the building were not brought to the attention of the tenants.

The Walkie Talkie building
The Walkie Talkie building(Image to the left), melting car. Image credits: Colin/wikimedia.org, Laura Lean/ City AM via motoroids.com

The building cost 500 million British pounds and had focused sunlight at the wrapped panels that could melt wing mirrors and badges or even a jaguar car. The developers found solutions for the issue that could have been implemented for under single-digit millions. But the design quirk has not put down potential tenants.

London has suspended parking in the area until the building has been modified. Even though the issue was not rectified, the profits made by the land were immense in the initial years. The building’s architect is also known to create a similar “death ray effect” in a Las Vegas hotel he designed. The glass has now been covered with a non-reflective film. It is estimated to have cost $10 million to repair the structure. (1, 2)


9 Bored Ape Yacht Club blockchain non-fungible token (NFT) was accidentally sold for 0.75 ether (a blockchain currency similar to “bitcoin”) after the owner accidentally put the decimal point in the wrong place. The original NFT was worth around $444,000 at the time, but because of the error sold for $4,440. It was later sold by the new buyer for $370,000.

Maxnaut owned the Bored Ape Yacht non-fungible token, but a wrong decimal point led to a severe loss for the owner. He was attempting to sell it at 75 ether but listed it for 0.75 ether by accident. By the time he realized the mistake, an automated system that scans NFTs picked it up immediately. The buyer had to pay a massive fee to finish the transaction quickly before any changes could have been done to the listing.

The buyer managed to buy it for $47,000, and the NFT was immediately put upon sale for $370,000. The Bored Ape NFT made the new buyer a profit of $320k within two days. Maxnaut found it to be a “fat finger” problem and decided to give up on pursuing the profits. The Bored Ape Yacht club is a collection of 10,000 unique NFTs worth around $5.6 million. (1, 2)


10 Intel lost $475 million when it had a small chip issue in their Pentium processor. A mathematician found a floating-point error during a complex calculation and tracked it back to the Intel chip he had on the computer. Intel instead of agreeing with the customer claimed that the possibility is very low and did not approach it seriously. This led technical users to become furious, and the company had to recall the chips and give new versions.

Intel Pentium processor
Intel Pentium processor. Image credit: Shutterstock

In October 1994, the new Pentium processor was found to be generating an error in results both in 60 and 90MHz models. It took the company $475 million to replace the flawed processors. The company profits came down to 37%. Intel was seeing their first time above $3 billion revenue and this impacted Intel’s overall revenue for over a year.

Around three to four million personal computers had the processor, and the company initially delayed the publicizing of the flaw. It was one of the first news stories on the internet to go viral back in 1994. The company’s take on the issue made the situation worse before their “Intel Inside” campaigns started.

Their approach to the situation was criticized publicly and led to many customers returning the chip for upgraded ones. The company had to rectify the issue with several hundred million, all for a floating-point decimal error. (1, 2)

Also Read:
10 of the Biggest Mistakes Ever Made in History

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