Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 1103
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Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 1103 was a Boeing 727-2L5[note 1] with 10 crew and 147 passengers on board that collided with a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 on 22 December 1992. All 157 people onboard flight 1103 were killed, while the crew of the MiG-23 ejected and survived. It was the deadliest aviation disaster to occur in Libya at the time.
|Date||22 December 1992|
|Summary||Mid-air collision (disputed)|
|Site||near Tripoli International Airport, Tripoli, Libya|
5A-DIA, the Boeing 727 that crashed, in 1978
|Operator||Libyan Arab Airlines|
|Flight origin||Benina International Airport|
|Destination||Tripoli International Airport|
|Operator||Libyan Air Force|
On 22 December 1992 Flight 1103 took off from Benina International Airport near Benghazi on a domestic flight to Tripoli International Airport. At an altitude of 3,500 ft (1,070 m) during the Boeing 727's approach to Tripoli airport, the aircraft collided with an Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 and disintegrated, resulting in the death of all 157 passengers and crew. The two crew members of the MiG-23 ejected before impact and survived.
Investigation and aftermathEdit
The official explanation blamed a collision with a Libyan Air Force MiG-23; the pilot and instructor of the MiG were imprisoned. The air accident investigation report stated a technical flaw, however.
After the crash, a spokesman for the Libyan Civil Authority stated he had been forbidden from releasing any information about the crash, including which planes had been involved. A mass grave was prepared for the victims outside of Tripoli with poor international relations denying the bodies of international victims being returned to their families.
Twenty years later, after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Abdel Majid Tayari, the instructor in the MiG-23 aircraft, challenged the official version of events, claiming that Flight 1103 was deliberately destroyed, because he saw its tail falling before his aircraft suffered a strong impact (from either the shock wave of the explosion that destroyed the Boeing 727 or a piece of wreckage) and he was forced to eject from his aircraft along with his trainee. In a statement Majid Tayari claims there was no air collision, but conceded that the planes were too close to one another.
Ali Aujali, who served as a Libyan diplomat both under Gaddafi and under the National Transitional Council, claims that Gaddafi ordered that the Boeing 727, whose flight was assigned the number 1103, be shot down exactly four years to the day after the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in order to demonstrate the negative effects of international sanctions imposed on Libya. According to Aujali, the dictator originally ordered a bomb with a timer to be in the aircraft, but when this failed to explode, he "ordered the [aircraft] to be knocked out of the sky". The widow of one British victim has claimed Libyan families of victims had asked if she had tested her husband's passports for explosive residue. Numerous theories follow the idea that Gaddafi had a hand in the crash, with claims that Gaddafi exploited the accident and used it as propaganda against sanctions from the Pan Am Flight 103 crash.
- The aircraft was a Boeing 727-200 model; Boeing assigns a unique code for each company that buys one of its aircraft, which is applied as an infix to the model number at the time the aircraft is built, hence "727-2L5" for a Boeing 727-200 built for Libyan Arab Airlines.
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