A pilot who made an emergency landing in Somalia’s capital after an explosion blew a hole through a jetliner says things would have been much worse had the blast occurred at a higher altitude. That’s because it could have led to explosive decompression on the Daallo Airlines-operated plane, which might have caused more severe structural damage and would have forced a faster descent because of limited supplies of oxygen to the passengers. The pilot said the explosion Tuesday was believed to have been caused by a bomb, but investigators have reached no conclusions. One man was missing but the other 73 passengers got off safely after the Airbus 321 landed.
Here’s a look at other airliners that have made emergency landings after suffering explosions or severe structural damage midair.
April 1, 2011 — Southwest flight 812, headed from Phoenix to Sacramento, made an emergency landing at a military base in Yuma, Arizona, after an explosion opened a 5-foot-long (1.5-meter-long) hole in the roof and depressurized the passenger cabin. No serious injuries were reported among the 118 people on board. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board concluded the hole was caused by flaws in riveting work when the 15-year-old Boeing 737 was built.
July 13, 2009 — A hole more than a foot (30 centimeters) long opened up in-flight in the fuselage of a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 heading from Nashville to Baltimore, depressurizing the cabin. The plane made an emergency landing in Charleston, West Virginia. No injuries were reported among the 131 on board, and it was later determined that the hole was caused by metal fatigue.
July 25, 2008 — A Qantas Boeing 747 en route to Melbourne, Australia, from London was shaken by what passengers described as an explosion after a stopover in Hong Kong. The plane made an emergency landing at the Manila airport in the Philippines with a 9-foot (3-meter) hole in its fuselage. There were no injuries among the 346 passengers, or the crew. Investigators concluded that a unique oxygen bottle explosion caused the hole.
Dec. 11, 1994 — A bomb blew a 2-foot (60-centimeter) hole in the floor leading to the cargo hold of a Philippine Airlines jetliner with 293 people aboard, but the pilot was able to make an emergency landing at Naha airport on Okinawa, Japan. One passenger was killed and 10 others were injured. Ramzi Yousef, who was sentenced to life in prison for the Feb. 26, 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York, was convicted in the bombing.
Feb 24, 1989 — Shortly after United Airlines flight 811 departed from Honolulu, bound for Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia, the Boeing 747’s cargo door blew off, sucking nine passengers to their deaths out of a 10-foot (3-meter) hole and knocking out two engines. The rest of the 336 passengers and 18 crew on board survived, as the pilots safely navigated the 25-minute return to Honolulu and made an emergency landing at the airport.
April 28, 1988 — A large section of a 19-year-old Aloha Airlines Boeing 737 jetliner on an inter-island hop was torn off over Hawaii. Although the pilots were able to land on the island of Maui, a flight attendant died and at least 61 of the 95 people on board were injured after the plane lost 18 feet (5 meters) of its upper fuselage. Investigators blamed metal fatigue.
April 2, 1986 — Terrorists planted a sheet of plastic explosive the size of a business letter under a seat on TWA flight 840, likely in Cairo before the plane flew to Athens, then Rome, then back to Athens. The resulting explosion just before the second landing in Athens ripped a hole in the side of the Boeing 727 that instantly blew one man and his seat out of the plane. A grandmother, her daughter and grandchild were also sucked out and seven other passengers were injured. The plane landed, and the rest of the 124 people on board survived.
Aug. 11, 1982: A terrorist placed a bomb beneath a seat cushion, set the timer and disembarked with his wife and child when Honolulu-bound Pan Am flight 830 made a stopover in Tokyo. The device exploded as the plane continued on, killing a Japanese teenager in a midair attack that investigators linked to a Palestinian bomb maker. Fifteen of the 285 people on board were injured, but the plane landed in Hawaii.
The Associated Press
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