Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Truth Behind The Pan Am Flight 103 Air Crash Investigation

By Tanisha Berg

In the same way people from the Baby Boomer generation all remember where they were the day John F. Kennedy was killed, later generations know exactly what they were doing when it was announced that a passenger airliner had crashed into the small Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing 259 passengers and crew along with 11 people on the ground. Years later, the Libyan government acknowledged its responsibility for the tragedy. What a lot of people do not know, the Pan Am Flight 103 air crash investigation revealed that the airline was guilty of wilful misconduct for not matching up each piece of luggage with the correct passenger.

There had been no prior indication of trouble with the aircraft before it left Frankfurt. Bombs are a recurring nightmare for everyone in the commercial aviation industry. Most bombs tend to be hidden inside luggage in the hold.

Bombs are not the only lethal menace with which the industry has to deal. There is a far more deadly enemy that cannot be risk-managed out of the picture. Since 1940, there has not been a decade gone by when at least one passenger craft has not been shot down by heavy artillery.

The cause of a 2007 Balad crash which involved an Antonov An-26 airliner, leaving 34 people dead and one seriously injured, remains in dispute. The incident occurred when the plane was attempting to land at an American military base in Balad, Iraq. While the official explanation is that the plane went down in bad weather, there are those who claim it was shot down by a missile.

In September 1993, there were three separate incidents on consecutive days. The first was on September 21, when a flight from Sochi, Russia, was shot down by an SAM, crashing into the Black Sea. All 22 passengers and five crew perished. The next day, a plane carrying soldiers from Georgia crashed onto the runway after being shot down. Here, 108 out of 132 souls on board died. The final crash took place on September 23, 1993. A mortar struck the plane while passengers were boarding. One crew member was killed.

Also in 1994, American military forces shot down an Iranian Air Force C-130 as it was transporting diplomatic staff. All 13 crew and 19 passengers were killed. In a separate incident that same year, the presidents of two African states, Rwanda and Burundi, were sharing an aircraft when they were shot down by rocket fire close to the capital of Rwanda.

The deadliest crash involving a DC-9-10/15 series aircraft occurred in 1980, when a plane carrying 81 people crashed into the Tyrrhenian Sea near the Italian island of Ustica off the coast of Naples. The President of Italy at the time blamed the French. In 2013, an Italian criminal court ruled that it was abundantly clear the flight had been terminated by a missile.

The earliest recorded incident of a civilian passenger airliner being shot down was Finnish civilian transport and passenger plane on its way from Tallinn, Estonia, to Helsinki in Finland, on June 14, 1940. This was three months after the Winter War. The aircraft was intercepted and shot down by two Soviet torpedo bombers.

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