ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 720-023B OD-AFT Al Qaysumah
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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
Operator:Middle East Airlines - MEA
Registration: OD-AFT
MSN: 18020/165
First flight: 1960-09-23 (15 years 3 months)
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT3D-1-MC7
Crew:Fatalities: 15 / Occupants: 15
Passengers:Fatalities: 66 / Occupants: 66
Total:Fatalities: 81 / Occupants: 81
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:37 km (23.1 mls) NW of Al Qaysumah (   Saudi Arabia)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Beirut International Airport (BEY/OLBA), Lebanon
Destination airport:Dubai Airport (DXB/OMDB), United Arab Emirates
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.

Loss of control

» 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


photo of Boeing-720-023B-OD-AFT
accident date: 01-01-1976
type: Boeing 720-023B
registration: OD-AFT

This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Beirut International Airport to Dubai Airport as the crow flies is 2127 km (1329 miles).
Accident location: Global; accuracy within tens or hundreds of kilometers.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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Boeing 720

  • 154 built
  • 8th loss
  • 6th fatal accident
  • 2nd worst accident
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 Saudi Arabia
  • The worst accident (at the time)
  • 6th worst accident (currently)
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