33 Years ago today: On 19 September 1989 a UTA DC-10-30 crashed in the Ténéré desert, Niger after a bomb exploded in the cargo hold, all 171 on board were killed.

Date:Tuesday 19 September 1989
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC10 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30
Operator:Union de Transports Aériens – UTA
First flight:1973
Total airframe hrs:60276
Engines:General Electric CF6-50C2R
Crew:Fatalities: 14 / Occupants: 14
Passengers:Fatalities: 156 / Occupants: 156
Total:Fatalities: 170 / Occupants: 170
Aircraft damage:Destroyed
Aircraft fate:Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Ténéré desert (https://cdn.aviation-safety.net/database/country/flags_15/5U.gif   Niger)
Phase:En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:N’Djamena Airport (NDJ/FTTJ), Chad
Destination airport:Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG/LFPG), France

The DC-10 was operating as UTA Flight 772 on a service from Brazzaville, Congo, to Paris via N’Djamena, Chad. The aircraft took off from N’Djamena at 13:13 and climbed to a cruising altitude of FL350.
At 13:59 an explosion occurred in a container at position 13R in the forward cargo hold. The explosion caused an overpressure in the cargo hold. Fragments of luggage, containers and pallets were blown away leading to holes on the left, right and underside of the fuselage. The cockpit then folded to the left side of the fuselage, and the aircraft broke up over the Ténéré desert.
The explosive device was most probably hidden in baggage, placed aboard at Brazzaville.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack. France obtained a confession from someone who claimed to have been involved. This lead to six Libyans being charged and tried in absentia. One of the persons being charges was the brother-in-law of Muammar Gaddafi, and deputy head of Libyan intelligence.
The motive would have been a retaliation for the French support of Chad in the Chadian-Libyan conflict (1978–1987).

Probable Cause:

– DC-10 flight UTA 772, Brazzaville N’Djamena – Paris, was destroyed by an explosion on 19 September 1989, forty-six minutes after take-off from N’Djamena, while cruising at flight level 350 in totally normal conditions.
– That destruction was due to an explosive charge placed in a container in location 13-R in the forward cargo hold.
– The Investigation Commission assert that the most plausible hypothesis is that the explosive charge was inside baggage loaded at Brazzaville Airport.
– Observations made shortly after the accident on Brazzaville Airport made it clear that, at that time, the airport security measures in force were not in accordance with the ICAO standards and recommended practices (Annex 17 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation and Civil Aviation Security
Manual (DOC 8973)).