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Plane Crash Diaries

Episode 28 - The Lockerbie Bombing of 1988 and how airline security improved

Plane Crash Diaries
Plane Crash Diaries
It was some trepidation that I’ve decided to eventually cover the Pan Am Flight 103 disaster over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 which killed 259 passengers and crew as well as 11 people on the ground.
Very few aviators or people interested in aviation are not aware of what happened to the Boeing 747 when a bomb loaded on board with other luggage blew up over Scotland. The shocking truths that were unearthed afterwards changed aviation forever.
But Pan Am’s lax security also created the hole that the terrorists exploited.
Two listeners in particular have prompted this episode, including Alison who was an 8 year-old living in Lockerbie when the plane came down. She has told me how the small community banded together despite their own loss and then extended their arms to help families of the victims.
There is a great deal to cover so let’s dive straight in starting with the latest developments first.
In December 2020, the United States announced charges against a Libyan suspected of making the bomb that blew up the Boeing over Lockerbie. Masud apparently allegedly carried out the attack on the orders of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi directly – although Gaddafi always denied that. Of course Gaddafi’s own luck ran out in 2011 during the Arab Spring uprisings when he was deposed, bayoneted and then shot. Live by the sword .. die by the sword they say – unfortunately he took his many secrets to the grave with him. The bombing led to many improvements in airline security, particularly how baggage was handled.
A special session of the International Civil Aviation Organisation or ICAO council was held in February 1989 with improving airport security number one on the list.
ICAO organization and powers were strengthened after this conference, and training rehashed.
ICAO also implemented what’s known as the Convention on Marking Plastic Explosives.
This lays out the rules for countries manufacturing explosives to mark them chemically in order for a bomb to be detected by sniffer dogs – and chemical analysis devices. There were many other improvements.
Plane Crash Diaries
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