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Figure G-1 - (Lockerbie Plane Crash)

Figure G-1


Operator: Pan American World Airways  
Aircraft Type: Boeing 747-121  
Nationality: United States of America  
Registration: N 739 PA  
Place of Accident Lockerbie, Dumfries, Scotland  
  Latitude 55° 07' N
  Longitude 003° 21' W
Date and Time (UTC): 21 December 1988 at 19.02:50 hrs  
  All times in this report are UTC  


The accident was notified to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch at 19.40 hrs on the 21 December 1988 and the investigation commenced that day. The members of the AAIB team are listed at Appendix A.

The aircraft, Flight PA103 from London Heathrow to New York, had been in level cruising flight at flight level 310 (31,000 feet) for approximately seven minutes when the last secondary radar return was received just before 19.03 hrs. The radar then showed multiple primary returns fanning out downwind. Major portions of the wreckage of the aircraft fell on the town of Lockerbie with other large parts landing in the countryside to the east of the town. Lighter debris from the aircraft was strewn along two trails, the longest of which extended some 130 kilometres to the east coast of England. Within a few days items of wreckage were retrieved upon which forensic scientists found conclusive evidence of a detonating high explosive. The airport security and criminal aspects of the accident are the subject of a separate investigation and are not covered in this report which concentrates on the technical aspects of the disintegration of the aircraft. 

The report concludes that the detonation of an improvised explosive device led directly to the destruction of the aircraft with the loss of all 259 persons on board and 11 of the residents of the town of Lockerbie. Five recommendations are made of which four concern flight recorders, including the funding of a study to devise methods of recording violent positive and negative pressure pulses associated with explosions. The final recommendation is that Airworthiness Authorities and aircraft manufacturers undertake a systematic study with a view to identifying measures that might mitigate the effects of explosive devices and improve the tolerance of the aircraft's structure and systems to explosive damage.


1.1 History of the Flight

Boeing 747, N739PA, arrived at London Heathrow Airport from San Francisco and parked on stand Kilo 14, to the south-east of Terminal 3. Many of the passengers for this aircraft had arrived at Heathrow from Frankfurt, West Germany on a Boeing 727, which was positioned on stand Kilo 16, next to N739PA. These passengers were transferred with their baggage to N739PA which was to operate the scheduled Flight PA103 to New York Kennedy. Passengers from other flights also joined Flight PA103 at Heathrow. After a 6 hour turnround, Flight PA103 was pushed back from the stand at 18.04 hrs and was cleared to taxy on the inner taxiway to runway 27R. The only relevant Notam warned of work in progress on the outer taxiway. The departure was unremarkable.

Flight PA103 took-off at 18.25 hrs. As it was approaching the Burnham VOR it took up a radar heading of 350° and flew below the Bovingdon holding point at 6000 feet. It was then cleared to climb initially to flight level (FL) 120 and subsequently to FL 310. The aircraft levelled off at FL 310 north west of Pole Hill VOR at 18.56 hrs. Approximately 7 minutes later, Shanwick Oceanic Control transmitted the aircraft's oceanic clearance but this transmission was not acknowledged. The secondary radar return from Flight PA103 disappeared from the radar screen during this transmission. Multiple primary radar returns were then seen fanning out downwind for a considerable distance. Debris from the aircraft was strewn along two trails, one of which extended some 130 km to the east coast of England. The upper winds were between 250° and 260° and decreased in strength from 115 kt at FL 320 to 60 kt at FL 100 and 15 to 20 kt at the surface.

Two major portions of the wreckage of the aircraft fell on the town of Lockerbie; other large parts, including the flight deck and forward fuselage section, landed in the countryside to the east of the town. Residents of Lockerbie reported that, shortly after 19.00 hrs, there was a rumbling noise like thunder which rapidly increased to deafening proportions like the roar of a jet engine under power. The noise appeared to come from a meteor-like object which was trailing flame and came down in the north-eastern part of the town. A larger, dark, delta shaped object, resembling an aircraft wing, landed at about the same time in the Sherwood area of the town. The delta shaped object was not on fire while in the air, however, a very large fireball ensued which was of short duration and carried large amounts of debris into the air, the lighter particles being deposited several miles downwind. Other less well defined objects were seen to land in the area. 

1.2 Injuries to persons




1.3 Damage to aircraft

The aircraft was destroyed

1.4 Other damage

The wings impacted at the southern edge of Lockerbie, producing a crater whose volume, calculated from a photogrammetric survey, was approximately 560 cubic metres. The weight of material displaced by the wing impact was estimated to be well in excess of 1500 tonnes. The wing impact created a fireball, setting fire to neighbouring houses and carrying aloft debris which was then blown downwind for several miles. It was subsequently established that domestic properties had been so seriously damaged as a result of fire and/or impact that 21 had to be demolished and an even greater number of homes required substantial repairs. Major portions of the aircraft, including the engines, also landed on the town of Lockerbie and other large parts, including the flight deck and forward fuselage section, landed in the countryside to the east of the town. Lighter debris from the aircraft was strewn as far as the east coast of England over a distance of 130 kilometres.

1.5 Personnel information


1.5.1 Commander: Male, aged 55 years
  Licence: USA Airline Transport Pilot's Licence
  Aircraft ratings: Boeing 747, Boeing 707, Boeing 720, Lockheed L1011 and Douglas DC3
  Medical Certificate: Class 1,valid to April 1989, with the limitation that the holder shall wear lenses that correct for distant vision and possess glasses that correct for near vision



Flying experience:  
Total all types: 10,910 hours
Total on type: 4,107 hours
Total last 28 days 82 hours
Duty time: Commensurate with company requirements
Last base check: 11 November 1988
Last route check: 30 June 1988
Last emergencies check: 8 November 1988


1.5.2 Co-pilot: Male, aged 52 years
  Licence: USA Airline Transport Pilot's Licence
  Aircraft ratings: Boeing 747, Boeing 707, Boeing 727
  Medical Certificate: Class 1, valid to April 1989, with the limitation that the holder shall possess correcting glasses for near vision
  Flying experience:  
  Total all types: 11,855 hours
  Total on type: 5,517 hours
  Total last 28 days: 51 hours
  Duty time: Commensurate with company requirements
  Last base check: 30 November 1988
  Last route check: Not required
  Last emergencies check: 27 November 1988


1.5.3 Flight Engineer: Male, aged 46 years
  Licence: USA Flight Engineer's Licence
  Aircraft ratings: Turbojet
  Medical certificate: Class 2, valid to June 1989, with the limitation that the holder shall wear correcting glasses for near vision
  Flying experience:  
  Total all types: 8,068 hours
  Total on type: 487 hours
  Total last 28 days: 53 hours
  Duty time: Commensurate with company requirements
  Last base check: 30 October 1988
  Last route check: Not required
  Last emergencies check: 27 October 1988


1.5.4 Flight Attendants: There were 13 Flight Attendants on the aircraft, all of whom met company proficiency and medical requirements



1.6 Aircraft information


1.6.1 Leading particulars  
  Aircraft type: Boeing 747-121
  Constructor's serial number: 19646
  Engines: 4 Pratt and Whitney JT9D-7A turbofan


1.6.2 General description

The Boeing 747 aircraft, registration N739PA, was a conventionally designed long range transport aeroplane. A diagram showing the general arrangement is shown at Appendix B, Figure B-1 together with the principal dimensions of the aircraft.

The fuselage of the aircraft type was of approximately circular section over most of its length, with the forward fuselage having a diameter of 21› feet where the cross-section was constant. The pressurised section of the fuselage (which included the forward and aft cargo holds) had an overall length of 190 feet, extending from the nose to a point just forward of the tailplane. In normal cruising flight the service pressure differential was at the maximum value of 8.9 pounds per square inch. The fuselage was of conventional skin, stringer and frame construction, riveted throughout, generally using countersunk flush riveting for the skin panels. The fuselage frames were spaced at 20 inch intervals and given the same numbers as their stations, defined in terms of the distance in inches from the datum point close to the nose of the aircraft [Appendix B, Figure B-2]. The skin panels were joined using vertical butt joints and horizontal lap joints. The horizontal lap joints used three rows of rivets together with a cold bonded adhesive.

Accommodation within the aircraft was predominately on the main deck, which extended throughout the whole length of the pressurised compartment. A separate upper deck was incorporated in the forward part of the aircraft. This upper deck was reached by means of a spiral staircase from the main deck and incorporated the flight crew compartment together with additional passenger accommodation. The cross-section of the forward fuselage differed considerably from the near circular section of the remainder of the aircraft, incorporating an additional smaller radius arc above the upper deck section joined to the main circular arc of the lower cabin portion by elements of straight fuselage frames and flat skin. 

In order to preserve the correct shape of the aircraft under pressurisation loading, the straight portions of the fuselage frames in the region of the upper deck floor and above it were required to be much stiffer than the frame portions lower down in the aircraft. These straight sections were therefore of very much more substantial construction than most of the curved sections of frames lower down and further back in the fuselage. There was considerable variation in the gauge of the fuselage skin at various locations in the forward fuselage of the aircraft.

The fuselage structure of N739PA differed from that of the majority of Boeing 747 aircraft in that it had been modified to carry special purpose freight containers on the main deck, in place of seats. This was known as the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) modification and enabled the aircraft to be quickly converted for carriage of military freight containers on the main deck during times of national emergency. The effect of this modification on the structure of the fuselage was mainly to replace the existing main deck floor beams with beams of more substantial cross-section than those generally found in passenger carrying Boeing 747 aircraft. A large side loading door, generally known as the CRAF door, was also incorporated on the left side of the main deck aft of the wing. 

Below the main deck, in common with other Boeing 747 aircraft, were a number of additional compartments, the largest of which were the forward and aft freight holds used for the storage of cargo and baggage in standard air-transportable containers. These containers were placed within the aircraft hold by means of a freight handling system and were carried on a system of rails approximately 2 feet above the outer skin at the bottom of the aircraft, there being no continuous floor, as such, below these baggage containers. The forward freight compartment had a length of approximately 40 feet and a depth of approximately 6 feet. The containers were loaded into the forward hold through a large cargo door on the right side of the aircraft.

1.6.3 Internal fuselage cavities

Because of the conventional skin, frame and stringer type of construction, common to all large public transport aircraft, the fuselage was effectively divided into a series of 'bays'. Each bay, comprising two adjacent fuselage frames and the structure between them, provided, in effect, a series of interlinking cavities bounded by the frames, floor beams, fuselage skins and cabin floor panels etc. The principal cavities thus formed were:


(i) A semi-circular cavity formed in between the fuselage frames in the lower lobe of the hull, i.e. from the crease beam (at cabin floor level) on one side down to the belly beneath the containers and up to the opposite crease beam, bounded by the fuselage skin on the outside and the containers/cargo liner on the inside [Appendix B, Figure B-3, detail A].
(ii) A horizontal cavity between the main cabin floor beams, the cabin floor panels and the cargo bay liner. This extended the full width of the fuselage and linked the upper ends of the lower lobe cavity [Appendix B, Figure B-3, detail B].
(iii) A narrow vertical cavity between the two containers [Appendix B, Figure B-3, detail C].
(iv) A further narrow cavity around the outside of the two containers, between the container skins and the cargo bay liner, communicating with the lower lobe cavity [Appendix B, Figure B-3, detail D].
(v) A continuation of the semi-circular cavity into the space behind the cabin wall liner [Appendix B, Figure B-3, detail E]. This space was restricted somewhat by the presence of the window assembly, but nevertheless provided a continuous cavity extending upwards to the level of the upper deck floor. Forward of station 740, this cavity was effectively terminated at its upper end by the presence of diaphragms which formed extensions of the upper deck floor panels; aft of station 740, the cavity communicated with the ceiling space and the cavity in the fuselage crown aft of the upper deck.

All of these cavities were repeated at each fuselage bay (formed between pairs of fuselage frames), and all of the cavities in a given bay were linked together, principally at the crease beam area [Appendix B, Figure B-3, region F]. Furthermore, each of the set of bay cavities was linked with the next by the longitudinal cavities formed between the cargo hold liner and the outer hull, just below the crease beam [Appendix B, Figure B-3, detail F]; i.e. this cavity formed a manifold linking together each of the bays within the cargo hold.

The main passenger cabin formed a large chamber which communicated directly with each of the sub floor bays, and also with the longitudinal manifold cavity, via the air conditioning and cabin/cargo bay de-pressurisation vent passages in the crease beam area. (It should be noted that a similar communication did not exist between the upper and lower cabins because there were no air conditioning/depressurisation passages to bypass the upper deck floor.)

1.6.4 Aircraft weight and centre of gravity

The aircraft was loaded within its permitted centre of gravity limits as follows:


Loading: lb kg
Operating empty weight 366,228 166,120
Additional crew 130 59
243 passengers (1) 40,324 18,291
Load in compartments:    
1 11,616 5,269
2 20,039 9,090
3 15,057 6,830
4 17,196 7,800
5 2,544 1,154
Total in compartments (2) 66,452 30,143
Total traffic load 106,776 48,434
Zero fuel weight 472,156 214,554
Fuel (Take-off) 239,997 108,862
Actual take-off weight(4) 713,002 323,416
Maximum take-off weight 733,992 332,937


Note 1: 
Calculated at standard weights and including cabin baggage.

Note 2: 
Despatch information stated that the cargo did not include dangerous goods, perishable cargo, live animals or known security exceptions. 

1.6.5 Maintenance details

N739PA first flew in 1970 and spent its whole service life in the hands of Pan American World Airways Incorporated. Its Certificate of Airworthiness was issued on 12 February 1970 and remained in force until the time of the accident, at which time the aircraft had completed a total of 72,464 hours flying and 16,497 flight cycles. Details of the last 4 maintenance checks carried out during the aircraft's life are shown below:


27 Sept 88
C Check (Interior upgrade)
2 Nov 88
B Service Check
27 Nov 88
Base 1
13 Dec 88
Base 2


The CRAF modification programme was undertaken in September 1987. At the same time a series of modifications to the forward fuselage from the nose back to station 520 (Section 41) were carried out to enable the aircraft to continue in service without a continuing requirement for structural inspections in certain areas.

All Airworthiness Directives relating to the Boeing 747 fuselage structure between stations 500 and 1000 have been reviewed and their applicability to this aircraft checked. In addition, Service Bulletins relating to the structure in this area were also reviewed. The applicable Service Bulletins, some of which implement the Airworthiness Directives are listed below together with their subjects. The dates, total aircraft times and total aircraft cycles at which each relevant inspection was last carried out have been reviewed and their status on aircraft N739PA at the time of the accident has been established.

N739PA Service Bulletin compliance:


SB 53-2064 Front Spar Pressure Bulkhead Chord Reinforcement and Drag Splice Fitting Rework.
  Modification accomplished on 6 July 1974.
  Post-modification repetitive inspection IAW (in accordance with) AD 84-18-06 last accomplished on 19 November 1985 at 62,030 TAT hours (Total Aircraft Time) and 14,768 TAC (Total Aircraft Cycles).
SB 53-2088 Frame to Tension Tie Joint Modification - BS760 to 780.
  Repetitive inspection IAW AD 84-19-01 last accomplished on 19 June 1985 at 60,153 hours TAT and 14,436 TAC.
SB 53-2200 Lower Cargo Doorway Lower Sill Truss and Latch Support Fitting Inspection Repair and Replacement.
  Repetitive inspection IAW AD 79-17-02 R2 last accomplished 2 November 1988 at 71,919 hours TAT and 16,406 TAC.
SB 53-2234 Fuselage - Auxiliary Structure - Main Deck Floor - BS 480 Floor Beam Upper Chord Modification.
  Repetitive inspection per SB 53A2263 IAW AD 86-23-06 last accomplished on 26 September 1987 at 67,376 hours TAT and 15,680 TAC.
SB 53-2237 Fuselage - Main Frame - BS 540 thru 760 and 1820 thru 1900 Frame Inspection and Reinforcement.
  Repetitive inspection IAW AD 86-18-01 last accomplished on 27 February 1987 at 67,088 hours TAT and 15,627 TAC.
SB 53-2267 Fuselage - Skin - Lower Body Longitudinal Skin Lap Joint and Adjacent Body Frame Inspection and Repair.
  Terminating modification accomplished 100% under wing-to-body fairings and approximately 80% in forward and aft fuselage sections on 26 September 1987 at 67,376 hours TAT and 15,680 TAC.
  Repetitive inspection of unmodified lap joints IAW AD 86-09-07 R1 last accomplished on 18 August 1988 at 71,043 hours TAT and 16,273 TAC.
SB 53A2303 Fuselage - Nose Section - station 400 to 520 Stringer 6 Skin Lap Splice Inspection, Repair and Modification.
  Repetitive inspection IAW AD 89-05-03 last accomplished on 26 September 1987 at 67,376 hours TAT and 15,680 TAC.


This documentation, when viewed together with the detailed content of the above service bulletins, shows the aircraft to have been in compliance with the requirements laid down in each of those bulletins. Some maintenance items were outstanding at the time the aircraft was despatched on the last flight, however, none of these items relate to the structure of the aircraft and none had any relevance to the accident.


1.7 Meteorological Information 

1.7.1 General weather conditions

An aftercast of the general weather conditions in the area of Lockerbie at about 19.00 hrs was obtained from the Meteorological Office, Bracknell. The synoptic situation included a warm sector covering northern England and most of Scotland with a cold front some 200 nautical miles to the west of the area moving eastwards at about 35 knots. The weather consisted of intermittent rain or showers. The cloud consisted of 4 to 6 oktas of stratocumulus based at 2,200 feet with 2 oktas of altocumulus between 15,000 and 18,000 feet. Visibility was over 15 kilometers and the freezing level was at 8,500 feet with a sub-zero layer between 4,000 and 5,200 feet.

1.7.2 Winds

There was a weakening jet stream of around 115 knots above Flight Level 310. From examination of the wind profile (see below), there appeared to be insufficient shear both vertically and horizontally to produce any clear air turbulence but there may have been some light turbulence.


Flight Level Wind
320 260°/115 knots
300 260°/ 90 knots
240 250°/ 80 knots
180 260°/ 60 knots
100 250°/ 60 knots
050 260°/ 40 knots
Surface 240°/ 15 to 20 gusting 25 to 30 knots

1.8 Aids to navigation 

Not relevant.

1.9 Communications

The aircraft communicated normally on London Heathrow aerodrome, London control and Scottish control frequencies. Tape recordings and transcripts of all radio telephone (RTF) communications on these frequencies were available.

At 18.58 hrs the aircraft established two-way radio contact with Shanwick Oceanic Area Control on frequency 123.95 MHz. At 19.02:44 hrs the clearance delivery officer at Shanwick transmitted to the aircraft its oceanic route clearance. The aircraft did not acknowledge this message and made no subsequent transmission. 

1.9.1 ATC recording replay

Scottish Air Traffic Control provided copy tapes with time injection for both Shanwick and Scottish ATC frequencies. The source of the time injection on the tapes was derived from the British Telecom "TIM" signal.

The tapes were replayed and the time signals corrected for errors at the time of the tape mounting.

1.9.2 Analysis of ATC tape recordings

From the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) tape it was known that Shanwick was transmitting Flight PA103's transatlantic clearance when the CVR stopped. By synchronising the Shanwick tape and the CVR it was possible to establish that a loud sound was heard on the CVR cockpit area microphone (CAM) channel at 19.02:50 hrs ±1 second.

As the Shanwick controller continued to transmit Flight PA103's clearance instructions through the initial destruction of the aircraft it would not have been possible for a distress call to be received from N739PA on the Shanwick frequency. The Scottish frequency tape recording was listened to from 19.02 hrs until 19.05 hrs for any unexplained sounds indicating an attempt at a distress call but none was heard.

A detailed examination and analysis of the ATC recording together with the flight recorder, radar, and seismic recordings is contained in Appendix C.

1.10 Aerodrome information

Not relevant

1.11 Flight recorders

The Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) were found close together at UK Ordnance Survey (OS) Grid Reference 146819, just to the east of Lockerbie, and recovered approximately 15 hours after the accident. Both recorders were taken directly to AAIB Farnborough for replay. Details of the examination and analysis of the flight recorders together with the radar, ATC and seismic recordings are contained in Appendix C.

1.11.1 Digital flight data recorder

The flight data recorder installation conformed to ARINC 573B standard with a Lockheed Model 209 DFDR receiving data from a Teledyne Controls Flight Data Acquisition Unit (FDAU). The system recorded 22 parameters and 27 discrete (event) parameters. The flight recorder control panel was located in the flight deck overhead panel. The FDAU was in the main equipment centre at the front end of the forward hold and the flight recorder was mounted in the aft equipment centre.

Decoding and reduction of the data from the accident flight showed that no abnormal behaviour of the data sensors had been recorded and that the recorder had simply stopped at 19.02:50 hrs ±1 second.

1.11.2 Cockpit voice recorder

The aircraft was equipped with a 30 minute duration 4 track Fairchild Model A100 CVR, and a Fairchild model A152 cockpit area microphone (CAM). The CVR control panel containing the CAM was located in the overhead panel on the flight deck and the recorder itself was mounted in the aft equipment centre.

The channel allocation was as follows:-


Channel 1 Flight Engineer's RTF.
Channel 2 Co-Pilot's RTF.
Channel 3 Pilot's RTF.
Channel 4 Cockpit Area Microphone.


The erase facility within the CVR was not functioning satisfactorily and low level communications from earlier recordings were audible on the RTF channels. The CAM channel was particularly noisy, probably due to the combination of the inherently noisy flight deck of the B747-100 in the climb and distortion from the incomplete erasure of the previous recordings. On two occasions the crew had difficulty understanding ATC, possibly indicating high flight deck noise levels. There was a low frequency sound present at irregular intervals on the CAM track but the source of this sound could not be identified and could have been of either acoustic or electrical origin.

The CVR tape was listened to for its full duration and there was no indication of anything abnormal with the aircraft, or unusual crew behaviour. The tape record ended, at 19.02:50 hrs ±1 second, with a sudden loud sound on the CAM channel followed almost immediately by the cessation of recording whilst the crew were copying their transatlantic clearance from Shanwick ATC.

1.12 Wreckage and impact information 

1.12.1 General distribution of wreckage in the field

The complete wing primary structure, incorporating the centre section, impacted at the southern edge of Lockerbie. Major portions of the aircraft, including the engines, also landed in the town. Large portions of the aircraft fell in the countryside to the east of the town and lighter debris was strewn to the east as far as the North Sea. The wreckage was distributed in two trails which became known as the northern and southern trails respectively and these are shown in Appendix B, Figure B-4. A computer database of approximately 1200 significant items of wreckage was compiled and included a brief description of each item and the location where it was found

Appendix B, Figures B-5 to B-8 shows photographs of a model of the aircraft on which the fracture lines forming the boundaries of the separate items of structure have been marked. The model is colour coded to illustrate the way in which the wreckage was distributed between the town of Lockerbie and the northern and southern trails. The crater

The aircraft wing impacted in the Sherwood Crescent area of the town leaving a crater approximately 47 metres (155 feet) long with a volume calculated to be 560 cubic metres.

The projected distance, measured parallel from one leading edge to the other wing tip, of the Boeing 747-100 was approximately 143 feet, whereas the span is known to be 196 feet. This suggests that impact took place with the wing structure yawed. Although the depth of the crater varied from one end to the other, its widest part was clearly towards the western end suggesting that the wing structure impacted whilst orientated with its root and centre section to the west.

The work carried out at the main crater was limited to assessing the general nature of its contents. The total absence of debris from the wing primary structure found remote from the crater confirmed the initial impression that the complete wing box structure had been present at the main impact.

The items of wreckage recovered from or near the crater are coloured grey on the model at Appendix B, Figures B-5 to B-8. The Rosebank Crescent site

A 60 feet long section of fuselage between frame 1241 (the rear spar attachment) and frame 1960 (level with the rear edge of the CRAF cargo door) fell into a housing estate at Rosebank Crescent, just over 600 metres from the crater. This section of the fuselage was that situated immediately aft of the wing, and adjoined the wing and fuselage remains which produced the crater. It is colour coded yellow on the model at Appendix B, Figures B-5 to B-8. All fuselage skin structure above floor level was missing except for the following items:

Section containing 3 windows between door 4L and CRAF door;
The CRAF door itself (latched) apart from the top area containing the hinge;
Window belt containing 8 windows aft of 4R door aperture
Window belt containing 3 windows forward of 4R door aperture; 
Door 4R.

Other items found in the wreckage included both body landing gears, the right wing landing gear, the left and right landing gear support beams and the cargo door (frames 1800-1920) which was latched. A number of pallets, luggage containers and their contents were also recovered from this site. Forward fuselage and flight deck section.

The complete fuselage forward of approximately station 480 (left side) to station 380 (right side) and incorporating the flight deck and nose landing gear was found as a single piece [Appendix B, Figure B-9] in a field approximately 4 km miles east of Lockerbie at OS Grid Reference 174808. It was evident from the nature of the impact damage and the ground marks that it had fallen almost flat on its left side but with a slight nose-down attitude and with no discernible horizontal velocity. The impact had caused almost complete crushing of the structure on the left side. The radome and right nose landing gear door had detached in the air and were recovered in the southern trail.

Examination of the torn edges of the fuselage skin did not indicate the presence of any pre-existing structural or material defects which could have accounted for the separation of this section of the fuselage. Equally so, there were no signs of explosive blast damage or sooting evident on any part of the structure or the interior fittings. It was noted however that a heavy, semi-eliptical scuff mark was present on the lower right side of the fuselage at approximately station 360. This was later matched to the intake profile of the No 3 engine.

The status of the controls and switches on the flight deck was consistent with normal operation in cruising flight. There were no indications that the crew had attempted to react to rapid decompression or loss of control or that any emergency preparations had been actioned prior to the catastrophic disintegration. Northern trail

The northern trail was seen to be narrow and clearly defined, to emanate from a point very close to the main impact crater and to be orientated in a direction which agreed closely with the mean wind aftercast for the height band from sea level to 20,000 ft. Also at the western end of the northern trail were the lower rear fuselage at Rosebank Crescent, and the group of Nos. 1, 2 and 4 engines which fell in Lockerbie.

The trail contained items of structure distributed throughout its length, from the area slightly east of the crater, to a point approximately 16 km east, beyond which only items of low weight / high drag such as insulation, interior trim, paper etc, were found. For all practical purposes this trail ended at a range of 25 km.

The northern trail contained mainly wreckage from the rear fuselage, fin and the inner regions of both tailplanes together with structure and skin from the upper half of the fuselage forward to approximately the wing mid-chord position. A number of items from the wing were also found in the northern trail, including all 3 starboard Kreuger flaps, most of the remains of the port Kreuger flaps together with sections of their leading edge attachment structures, one portion of outboard aileron approximately 10 feet long, the aft ends of the flap-track fairings (one with a slide raft wrapped around it), and fragments of glass reinforced plastic honeycombe structure believed to be from the flap system, i.e. fore-flaps, aft-flaps, mid-flaps or adjacent fairings. In addition, a number of pieces of the engine cowlings and both HF antennae (situated projecting aft from the wing-tips) were found in this trail.

All items recovered from the northern trail, with the exception of the wing, engines, and lower rear fuselage in Rosebank Crescent, are coloured red on the model of the aircraft in Appendix B, Figures B-5 to B-8. Southern trail

The southern trail was easily defined, except within 12 km of Lockerbie where it tended to merge with the northern trail. Further east, it extended across southern Scotland and northern England, essentially in a straight band as far as the North Sea. Most of the significant items of wreckage were found in this trail within a range of 30 km from the main impact crater. Items recovered from the southern trail are coloured green on the model of the aircraft at Appendix B, Figures B-5 to B-8.

The trail contained numerous large items from the forward fuselage. The flight deck and nose of the aircraft fell in the curved part of this trail close to Lockerbie. Fragments of the whole of the left tailplane and the outboard portion of the right tailplane were distributed almost entirely throughout the southern trail. Between 21 and 27 km east of the main impact point (either side of Langholm) substantial sections of tailplane skin were found, some bearing distinctive signs of contact with debris moving outwards and backwards relative to the fuselage. Also found in this area were numerous isolated sections of fuselage frame, clearly originating from the crown region above the forward upper deck. Datum line

All grid references relating to items bearing actual explosive evidence, together with those attached to heavily distorted items found to originate immediately adjacent to them on the structure, were plotted on an Ordnance Survey (OS) chart. These references, 11 in total, were all found to be distributed evenly about a mean line orientated 079°(Grid) within the southern trail and were spread over a distance of 12 km. The distance of each reference from the line was measured in a direction parallel to the aircraft's track and all were found to be within 500 metres of the line, with 50% of them being within 250 metres of the line. This line is referred to as the datum line and is shown in Appendix B, Figure B-4. Distribution of wreckage within the southern trail

North of the datum line and parallel to it were drawn a series of lines at distances of 250, 300, 600 and 900 metres respectively from the line, again measured in a direction parallel to the aircraft's track. The positions on the aircraft structure of specific items of wreckage, for which grid references were known with a high degree of confidence, within the bands formed between these lines, are shown in Appendix B, Figures B-10 to 13. In addition, a separate assessment of the grid references of tailplane and elevator wreckage established that these items were distributed evenly about the 600 metre line. Area between trails

Immediately east of the crater, the southern trail converged with the northern trail such that, to an easterly distance of approximately 5 km, considerable wreckage existed which could have formed part of either trail. Further east, between 6 and 11 km from the crater, a small number of sections and fragments of the fin had fallen outside the southern boundary of the northern trail. Beyond this a large area existed between the trails in which there was no wreckage.

1.12.2 Examination of wreckage at CAD Longtown

The debris from all areas was recovered by the Royal Air Force to the Army Central Ammunition Depot Longtown, about 20 miles from Lockerbie. Approximately 90% of the hull wreckage was successfully recovered, identified, and laid out on the floor in a two-dimensional reconstruction [Appendix B, Figure B-14]. Baggage container material was incorporated into a full three-dimensional reconstruction. Items of wreckage added to the reconstructions was given a reference number and recorded on a computer database together with a brief description of the item and the location where it was found. Fuselage

The reconstruction revealed the presence of damage consistent with an explosion on the lower fuselage left side in the forward cargo bay area. A small region of structure bounded approximately by frames 700 & 720 and stringers 38L & 40L, had clearly been shattered and blasted through by material exhausting directly from an explosion centred immediately inboard of this location. The material from this area, hereafter referred to as the 'shatter zone', was mostly reduced to very small fragments, only a few of which were recovered, including a strip of two skins [Appendix B, Figure B-15] forming part of the lap joint at the stringer 39L position.

Surrounding the shatter zone were a series of much larger panels of torn fuselage skin which formed a 'star-burst' fracture pattern around the shatter zone. Where these panels formed the boundary of the shatter zone, the metal in the immediate locality was ragged, heavily distorted, and the inner surfaces were pitted and sooted - rather as if a very large shotgun had been fired at the inner surface of the fuselage at close range. In contrast, the star-burst fractures, outside the boundary of the shatter zone, displayed evidence of more typical overload tearing, though some tears appeared to be rapid and, in the area below the missing panels, were multi-branched. These surrounding skin panels were moderately sooted in the regions adjacent to the shatter zone, but otherwise were lightly sooted or free of soot altogether. (Forensic analysis of the soot deposits on frame and skin material from this area confirmed the presence of explosive residues.) All of these skin panels had pulled away from the supporting structure and had been bent and torn in a manner which indicated that, as well as fracturing in the star burst pattern, they had also petalled outwards producing characteristic, tight curling of the sheet material.

Sections of frames 700 and 720 from the area of the explosion were also recovered and identified. Attached to frame 720 were the remnants of a section of the aluminium baggage container (side) guide rail, which was heavily distorted and displayed deep pitting together with very heavy sooting, indicating that it had been very close to the explosive charge. The pattern of distortion and damage on the frames and guide rail segment matched the overall pattern of damage observed on the skins.

The remainder of the structure forming the cargo deck and lower hull was, generally, more randomly distorted and did not display the clear indications of explosive processes which were evident on the skin panels and frames nearer the focus of the explosion. Nevertheless, the overall pattern of damage was consistent with the propagation of explosive pressure fronts away from the focal area inboard of the shatter zone. This was particularly evident in the fracture and bending characteristics of several of the fuselage frames ahead of, and behind station 700.

The whole of the two-dimensional fuselage reconstruction was examined for general evidence of the mode of disintegration and for signs of localised damage, including overpressure damage and pre-existing damage such as corrosion or fatigue. There was some evidence of corrosion and dis-bonding at the cold-bond lap joints in the fuselage. However, the corrosion was relatively light and would not have compromised significantly the static strength of the airframe. Certainly, there was no evidence to suggest that corrosion had affected the mode of disintegration, either in the area of the explosion or at areas more remote. Similarly, there were no indications of fatigue damage except for one very small region of fatigue, involving a single crack less than 3 inches long, which was remote from the bomb location. This crack was not in a critical area and had not coincided with a fracture path.

No evidence of overpressure fracture or distortion was found at the rear pressure bulkhead. Some suggestion of 'quilting' or 'pillowing' of skin panels between stringers and frames, indicative of localised overpressure, was evident on the skin panels attached to the larger segments of lower fuselage wreckage aft of the blast area. In addition, the mode of failure of the butt joint at station 520 suggested that there had been a rapid overpressure load in this area, causing the fastener heads to 'pop' in the region of stringers 13L to 16L, rather than producing shear in the fasteners. Further evidence of localised overpressure damage remote from the source of the explosion was found during the full three-dimensional reconstruction, detailed later in paragraph

An attempt was made to analyse the fractures, to determine the direction and sequence of failure as the fractures propagated away from the region of the explosion. It was found that the directions of most of the fractures close to the explosion could be determined from an analysis of the fracture surfaces and other features, such as rivet and rivet hole distortions. However, it was apparent that beyond the boundary of the petalled region, the disintegration process had involved multiple fractures taking place simultaneously - extremely complex parallel processes which made the sequencing of events not amenable to conventional analysis. Wing structure and adjacent fuselage area

On completion of the initial layout at Longtown it became evident that, in the area from station 1000 to approximately station 1240 the only identifiable fuselage structure consisted of elements of fuselage skin, stringers and frames from above the cabin window belts. The wreckage from in and around the crater was therefore sifted to establish more accurately what sections of the aircraft had produced the crater. All of the material was highly fragmented, but it was confirmed that the material comprised mostly wing structure, with a few fragments of fuselage sidewall and passenger seats. The badly burnt state of these fragments made it clear that they were recovered from the area of the main impact crater, the only scene of significant ground fire. Amongst these items a number of cabin window forgings were recovered with sections of thick horizontal panelling attached having a length equivalent to the normal window spacing/frame pitch. This arrangement, with skins of this thickness, is unique to the area from station 1100 to 1260. It is therefore reasonable to assume that these fragments formed parts of the missing cabin sides from station 1000 to station 1260, which must have remained attached to the wing centre section at the time of its impact. Because of the high degree of fragmentation and the relative insignificance of the wing in terms of the overall explosive damage pattern, a reconstruction of the wing material was not undertaken. The sections of the aircraft which went into the crater are colour coded grey in Appendix B, Figures B-5 to B-8. Fin and aft section of fuselage

Examination of the structure of the fin revealed evidence of in-flight damage to the leading edge caused by the impact of structure or cabin contents. This damage was not severe or extensive and the general break-up of the fin did not suggest either a single readily defined loading direction, or break-up due to the effects of leading edge impact. A few items of fin debris were found between the northern and southern trails.

A number of sections of fuselage frame found in the northern trail exhibited evidence of plastic deformation of skin attachment cleats and tensile overload failure of the attachment rivets. This damage was consistent with that which would occur if the skin had been locally subjected to a high loading in a direction normal to its plane. Although this was suggestive of an internal overpressure condition, the rear fuselage revealed no other evidence to support this possibility. Examination of areas of the forward fuselage known to have been subjected to high blast overpressures revealed no comparable evidence of plastic deformation in the skin attachment cleats or rivets, most skin attachment failures appearing to have been rapid.

Calculations made on the effects of internal pressure generated by an open ended fuselage descending at the highest speed likely to have been experienced revealed that this could not generate an internal pressure approaching that necessary to cause failure in an intact cabin structure. Baggage containers

During the wreckage recovery operation it became apparent that some items, identified as parts of baggage containers, exhibited damage consistent with being close to a detonating high explosive. It was therefore decided to segregate identifiable container parts and reconstruct any that showed evidence of explosive damage. It was evident, from the main wreckage layout, that the explosion had occurred in the forward cargo hold and, although all baggage container wreckage was examined, only items from this area which showed the relevant characteristics were considered for the reconstruction. Discrimination between forward and rear cargo hold containers was relatively straightforward as the rear cargo hold wreckage was almost entirely confined to Lockerbie, whilst that from the forward hold was scattered along the southern wreckage trail. 

All immediately identifiable parts of the forward cargo containers were segregated into areas designated by their serial numbers and items not identified at that stage were collected into piles of similar parts for later assessment. As a result of this, two adjacent containers, one of metal construction the other fibreglass, were identified as exhibiting damage likely to have been caused by the explosion. Those parts which could be positively identified as being from these two containers were assembled onto one of three simple wooden frameworks, one each for the floor and superstructure of the metal container and one for the superstructure of the fibreglass container. From this it was positively determined that the explosion had occurred within the metal container (serial number AVE 4041 PA), the direct effects of this being evident also on the forward face of the adjacent fibreglass container (serial number AVN 7511 PA) and on the local airframe on the left side of the aircraft in the region of station 700. It was therefore confirmed that this metal container had been loaded in position 14L in agreement with the aircraft loading records. While this work was in progress a buckled section of the metal container skin was found by an AAIB Inspector to contain, trapped within its folds, an item which was subsequently identified by forensic scientists at the Royal Armaments Research and Development Establishment (RARDE) as belonging to a specific type of radio-cassette player and that this had been fitted with an improvised explosive device (IED).

The reconstruction of these containers and their relationship to the airc

Libya, Lockerbie & Lies The struggle by one country against the forces of international oppression

LLibya, Lockerbie & Lies The struggle by one country against the forces of international oppression  - By SUSAN BRYCE  ::::: It was the evening of 21 December 1988, when Pan Am flight 103 exploded in mid air overhead Dean’s Cross in the English Lake District and crashed at Lockerbie in Scotland. All 259 passengers and crew on the plane were killed instantly, and a total of eleven local people also died in the crash... 

                                                                                                                                                                                             >>> Read More <<< 

Investigation Report - Page Links:

SYNOPSIS  *  Appendix A - Personnel involved in the investigation *   Figure B (Appendix B) - Pictures & Documents  *

 Appendix C - Analysis of recorded data  *  Figure C (Appendix C) - Pictures & Documents  *

Appendix D - Critical crack calculations  *  Appendix E - Potential remedial measures  *  

Appendix F - Baggage container examination and reconstruction  *  Figure F (Appendix F) - Pictures & Documents  *

Appendix G - Mach stem shock wave effects  *  

Figure G-1 - (Appendix G-1)  *  More Investigation Images Follow - SOON!

Investigation News & Info`s and Video Material:

Hillary Clinton called for al-Megrahi to be returned to prison in Scotland...  *  Video - Evidence Against C.I.A.  *

Heading over a 2009 post by Michael Meacher MP (UK) on his blog. It reads as follow  *  

Lockerbie dad meets man jailed for bombing  *  Police chief- Lockerbie evidence was faked  *  

UK CALLS FOR LIFTING OF UN SANCTIONS ON LIBYA (2003)  *  Abdelbaset Ali Al-Megrahi - My Story  * 


Video - Abdelbaset Ali Al-Megrahi freed  *  Video - Madsen Aug 2009 - CIA fabricated evidence  *

Video - Mr. Al-Megrahi says truth will come out!  *  Video - Lockerbie Bomber Truth - Part 1 and 2  *  

Audio - George Galloway discusses Lockerbie with Dr Jim Swire  *  Video - Special Event: Lockerbie Case ..with Dr Jim Swire  *

Video - Dr Jim Swire on the death of Megrahi  *  Statement  by Saif Al  Gaddafi to the Release of Abdel-Basset Megrahi  * 

Video - Lockerbie ::: CIA Framing Libya  *  Saif Al Islam Gaddafi: 'We don't want confrontation and aggression  * 

Audio - George Galloway and Chris on the Lockerbie case  *  .>>>>>




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Lockerbie case 

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Lockerbie case 

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Lockerbie case 

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Lockerbie case -  SYNOPSIS

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Lockerbie case -  SYNOPSIS

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Lockerbie case -  SYNOPSIS