Tuesday, 22 December, 1992

– Libya

Libyan Arab Airlines flight LN1103, a domestic scheduled passenger flight from Benghazi-Benina International Airport (BEN/HLLB), Libya, to Tripoli International Airport (TIP/HLLT), Libya, operated with a Boeing 727-2L5, registration 5A-DIA, collided with a Libyan Air Force MiG-23 while on approach to Tripoli International Airport (TIP/HLLT), Libya.

Both airplanes were destroyed. The ten crew and 147 passengers onboard flight 1103 perished. The two crew of the Mig ejected and survived.

The crash of Flight 1103 is the deadliest aviation accident on Libyan soil. It is also the third deadliest crash involving the Boeing 727.

– Details:

Libyan Arab Airlines flight 1103, a Boeing 727, was destroyed when it crashed while on approach to Tripoli International Airport, Libya. All 157 persons on board were killed.

The aircraft operated a domestic flight from Benghazi to Tripoli, Libya. As the flight approached Tripoli Airport, it was instructed to hold at the Papa Echo beacon at 3000 feet, 4.1DME from runway 27. At 08:05 the flight was told they would need to hold for another three minutes due to military traffic.

This military traffic was a MiG-23UB that had just taken off. The aircraft climbed in a left hand turn and headed towards Papa Echo. Reaching 3000 feet, the aircraft hit the tail fin of flight 1103. The tail separated and the Boeing 727 entered an uncontrollable descent and impacted the ground. Both crew members of the MiG-23 reportedly ejected safely.

The official explanation and air accident investigation report both blamed a collision with a Libyan Air Force MiG-23; the pilot and instructor of the MiG were imprisoned.

After the crash, a spokesman for the Libyan Civil Authority stated he had been forbidden from releasing any information about the crash, including which planes had been involved. A mass grave was prepared for the victims outside of Tripoli with poor international relations denying the bodies of international victims being returned to their families.

Twenty years later, after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Major Abdel Majid Al-Tayari, the instructor in the MiG-23 aircraft, challenged the official version of events, claiming that Flight 1103 was deliberately destroyed, because he saw its tail falling before his aircraft suffered a strong impact (from either the shock wave of the explosion that destroyed the Boeing 727 or a piece of wreckage) and he was forced to eject from his aircraft along with his trainee, Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Abu Sneina. In a statement Al-Tayari claims there was no air collision, but conceded that the planes were too close to one another.

Ali Aujali, who served as a Libyan diplomat both under Gaddafi and under the National Transitional Council, claims that Gaddafi ordered that the Boeing 727, whose flight was assigned the number 1103, be shot down exactly four years to the day after the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in order to demonstrate the negative effects of international sanctions imposed on Libya. According to Aujali, the dictator originally ordered a bomb with a timer to be in the aircraft, but when this failed to explode, he “ordered the [aircraft] to be knocked out of the sky”. The widow of one British victim has claimed Libyan families of victims had asked if she had tested her husband’s passports for explosive residue.

The first memorial for the crash was held near Tripoli, Libya in 2012.

– Al Jazeera documentary: