Unlawful Interference Boeing 720-023B OD-AFT, Thursday 1 January 1976
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Date:Thursday 1 January 1976
Type:Silhouette image of generic B720 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Boeing 720-023B
Owner/operator:Middle East Airlines - MEA
Registration: OD-AFT
MSN: 18020/165
Year of manufacture:1960
Engine model:Pratt & Whitney JT3D-1-MC7
Fatalities:Fatalities: 81 / Occupants: 81
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Category:Unlawful Interference
Location:37 km NW of Al Qaysumah -   Saudi Arabia
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:Beirut International Airport (BEY/OLBA)
Destination airport:Dubai Airport (DXB/OMDB)
Middle East Airlines flight 438 was a scheduled passenger service that was supposed to departed Beirut Airport, Lebanon on December 31, 1975, bound for Dubai and Muscat.
The Boeing 747 that was planned to operate the flight suffered an engine problem. The flight was delayed and a Boeing 720 was prepared to replace the 747. The flight took off from Beirut Airport at 02:10 hours local time on January 1, 1976.
The aircraft was en route over the Saudi desert at FL370 when radar and radio contact was lost. It was found to have crashed near Al Qaysumah, killing all 81 on board.
An investigation revealed that a bomb had exploded in the forward baggage compartment.


Aircraft hijackings and other criminal acts against civil aviation : statistics and narrative reports / FAA
Ottawa Citizen - Feb 13, 1976
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Jan 2, 1976


  • 6th worst accident in 1976
  • 2nd worst accident of this aircraft type
  • 2nd worst accident of this aircraft type at the time



photo (c) collection Arno Janssen; Frankfurt International Airport (FRA); July 1975

Revision history:


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