Singapore Airlines Flight 117

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Singapore Airlines Flight 117
Airbus A310-324, Singapore Airlines AN0118392.jpg
The aircraft involved in the hijacking, seen in Changi Airport in 1999.
Hijacking
Date 26 March 1991
Summary Aircraft hijacking
Aircraft type Airbus A310-324
Operator Singapore Airlines
Registration 9V-STP
Flight origin Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport
Destination Singapore Changi Airport
Passengers 114 (excluding hijackers)
Crew 9
Fatalities 4 (hijackers)
Injuries 2
Survivors 123 (all, excluding hijackers)

On 26 March 1991, Singapore Airlines Flight 117 was hijacked in flight by four Pakistani militants. The aircraft landed at Singapore. After their demands were not met, the hijackers threatened to begin killing hostages; before their deadline expired, commandos stormed the plane, killing the hijackers and freeing all hostages unhurt.[1] This was the first and only hijacking involving a Singapore Airlines aircraft.

Timeline

The plane, an Airbus A310 with registration 9V-STP,[2] had taken off from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at 21:15 SST, with 114 passengers and 11 crew on board. The plane was hijacked in mid-air while en route to Singapore Changi Airport by four Pakistanis. The hijackers were armed with explosives and knives but no firearms. It landed safely at Changi Airport at 22:15, where an executive group of officials from the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, along with Singapore Airlines representatives and a negotiating team, were all standing by.

The hijackers, who claimed to be members of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), demanded the release of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari (later elected President of Pakistan), as well as other PPP members from jail. The hijackers also required the plane to be refuelled to fly to Australia. The next morning, 27 March, at 02:30, the hijackers pushed two stewards out of the aircraft, after the plane had been moved to outer tarmac.

At 06:45, the hijackers gave a last 5-minute deadline, and issued a threat to kill one passenger every ten minutes if their demands were still not met. With three minutes to go, orders were given to initiate the assault: the Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation (SAF CDO FN) stormed the plane in a 30-second sweep, killing all four hijackers with no injuries to hostages. The hijack leader had been shot five times in the chest, but was still alive. Then he attempted to stand and ignite his explosive but a Commando shot him dead before he did so.[3] The plane was completely secured by 06:50.

Aftermath

Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong commended all those involved in handling the ordeal and rescue mission for their swiftness and efficiency. Captain Stanley Lim, the pilot of the flight, and Superintendent Foo Kia Juah, chief police negotiator, were awarded the Public Service Star for their roles. The SAF Commando Formation members were awarded the Medal for Valour, and others in the negotiating team were given Presidential Certificates of Commendation.

Several years later, at the unveiling of the Singapore Special Operations Force, Singapore Armed Forces acknowledged that the unit involved in resolving the incident was a classified secret, elite counter-terrorism and special reconnaissance and operations unit formed in the mid-1980s.

Singapore Airlines continues to operate the flight number 117 between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, using an Airbus A330-300, except on Saturdays and Sundays.

The aircraft

The hijacked aircraft had been delivered to Singapore Airlines on 22 November 1988. The hijacked plane continued to remain in daily service with Singapore Airlines after the incident for the next 10 years, until it was transferred to Spanish airline Air Plus Comet on 11 May 2001. The plane was painted all-white and re-registered from 9V-STP to EC-HVB. On 31 May 2003, it was retired from flying and was stored in the Mojave Air and Space Port in the United States. On 25 April 2005, the untitled A310 aircraft which was registered N443RR was broken up and scrapped on site at the Mojave Air and Space Port.[4]

In 2010, the registration of the hijacked A310, 9V-STP, was then re-registered to an Airbus A330-300. In 2016, the aircraft was withdrawn from use and returned to the lessor.[5]

See also

References

  1. ^ Choy Choi Kee (4 May 2010). "History snippets: 1981 Onwards (A Maturing SAF): 1991 – SQ 117 Rescue". Singaporean Ministry of Defence (MINDEF). Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  2. ^ Hijacking description at the Aviation Safety Network
  3. ^ "SQ117 Hijack". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 3 Feb 2015. 
  4. ^ "Operators of the aircraft: 9V-STP / N443RR / EC-HVB". AirFleets.Net. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "B-LHD Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A330-300". www.planespotters.net. 

External links

  • Tan Lay Yuen (17 April 1999). "Hijacking of Singapore Airlines Flight SQ 117". Singapore: National Library Board. Archived from the original on 14 September 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  • "SQ Hijack Video (from Days of Disaster)". Singapore: Channel NewsAsia. January 2015. Archived from the original on 27 February 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 

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