Hijacking description
Last updated: 3 September 2014
Status:
Date:Thursday 13 October 1977
Type:Silhouette image of generic B732 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 737-230C
Operator:Lufthansa
Registration: D-ABCE
C/n / msn: 20254/230
First flight: 1970-01-07 (7 years 9 months)
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A
Crew:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants:
Passengers:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants:
Total:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 91
Airplane damage: Minor
Location:Mogadishu International Airport (MGQ) (   Somalia) show on map
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI/LEPA), Spain
Destination airport:Frankfurt International Airport (FRA/EDDF), Germany
Flightnumber: 181
Narrative:
On October 13, 1977, Lufthansa flight LH181, a Boeing 737 flying from Palma de Mallorca (PMI) to Frankfurt (FRA) with 91 passengers and crew, was hijacked by four militants belonging to "Commando Martyr Halime".
The aircraft diverted to Rome for refueling. The hijackers demanded the release of eleven Red Army Faction (RAF) terrorists detained in a German prison, and US$15 million. The airplane, named "Landshut", continued its journey, landing in Larnaca, Bahrain and Dubai, following a series of denied landing clearances in other airports across the Arabian Peninsula.
Flight 181 then flew to Salalah, in Oman, where it was denied landing, and changed course to Aden. As the main runway was blocked by vehicles and the plane was running low on fuel, the captain had no choice but to land on a sand strip nearby. In order to verify the condition of the landing gear following the rough landing, he was allowed to temporarily leave the plane. However, the captain did not immediately return to the plane after the inspection, even after numerous attempts to recall him and a threat to blow up the plane on the ground. The reasons for this prolonged absence are unclear; however, some reports indicate that the captain asked the Yemeni authorities to inhibit the continuation of the flight and to respond to the terrorists' demands. The captain returned to the airplane but he was shot in the head by one of the hijackers. The plane was refuelled and took off at 02:00 on the 17th, piloted by the co-pilot, with course towards the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
On October 17, at around 03:30 UTC, the 737 landed in Mogadishu were the captain's body was thrown on the tarmac, and an ultimatum was set for the RAF prisoners to be released by 14:30 UTC. After pouring the duty free spirits over the hostages in preparation for destroying the plane, the hijackers were told that prisoners were to be released and that the transfer to Mogadishu required several more hours, they extended the deadline to the next morning, 00:30 UTC.
By order of German chancellor Helmut Schmidt, a team of GSG 9 commandos assembled in Dubai. The team flew to Mogadishu in a white-painted Luftwaffe Boeing 707. After a Somali Ranger battalion had secured the airfield, the team stormed the airliner at 23:05 UTC (October 18 locally). The Somalis had distracted the hijackers for a period with the airport lights, they then lit a petrol tanker in front of the plane.
In the seven minute operation, three of the four terrorists were killed; a GSG 9 member and a flight attendant were injured.


Classification:
Hijack
Plane stormed

Sources:
» "Lufthansa Flight 181." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.


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Map
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 Palma de Mallorca Airport to Frankfurt International Airport as the crow flies is 1242 km (776 miles).

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Networkĺs 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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