US and Canadian bombing events

The following are bombing events involving a US or Canadian carrier or a flight arriving or departing the US or Canada. All the listed events are significant events as defined by In the number numbered events, at least one passenger, excluding stowaways, hijackers, or saboteurs, was killed.

  1. 9 September 1949; Quebec Airways (Canadian Pacific Airlines) DC3; near Sault Au Cochon, Quebec: Bomb explodes in number one forward baggage compartment about 40 miles (64 km) from Quebec. The crash killed 23. Three individuals were later executed for the crime.

  2. 1 November 1955; United Air Lines DC6; Flight 629; near Longmont, CO: A bomb explodeds in the baggage compartment shortly after takeoff on a scheduled domestic flight forom Denver, CO to Portland, OR. All five crew members and 39 passengers were killed. The bomb had been carried in the luggage of a passenger whose son had purchased several life insurance polices for his mother listing the son as the beneficiary. He was later convicted of the crime and executed.
    Civil Aeronautics Board accident report
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  3. 25 July 1957; Western Airlines CV-240; flight 39; near Daggett, CA: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Las Vegas, NV to Los Angeles, CA. About 15 minutes after takeoff, a passenger went to the rear lavatory and stayed there for about 20 minutes. A bomb exploded in the rear lavatory about 35 minutes after takeoff, blowing hole in the fuselage. The passenger who set off the bomb was blown out through the same hole. The investigation concluded that the explosion was due to a dynamite bomb that was built by the passenger who was killed. The crew was able to land the plane at George, AFB near Victorville, California. None of the three crewmembers or 12 other passenges wer killed.
    Civil Aeronautics Board accident report

  4. 6 January 1960; National Airlines DC6; flight 2511; near Bolivia, NC: The aircraft, which was one of two substitute aircraft for a 707 that had mechanical difficulties, was on a scheduled domestic flight from Miami, FL to New York's Idlewild Airport (the present day JFK). A bomb exploded in passenger compartment while in cruise at 18,000 feet (5485 meters). The body of one of the passengers was found about 16 miles (25.7 km) from the main crash site. All five crew members and 29 passengers were killed. Authorities did not conclude what person or group was reposnible for the bombing.
    Civil Aeronautics Board accident report
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  5. 22 May 1962; Continental Airlines 707; flight 11; near Unionville, MO: A bomb in the right rear lavatory blew off tail at 39,000. All eight crew members and 39 passengers were killed. An FBI investigation revealed that one of the passengers, who had been arrested on a robbery charge and was to face a preliminary hearing on the matter, had purchased a significant amount of life insurance and dynamite shortly before the crash.
    Civil Aeronautics Board accident report

  6. 8 July 1965; Canadian Pacific Airlines DC6; flight 21; over British Colombia, Canada: The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight from Vancouver to Prince George, both in British Columbia, Canada. An explosive device in the left aft lavatory caused the tail section to separate. All six crew members and 46 passengers were killed.

  7. 17 December 1973; Pan Am 747; Rome, Italy: While the aircraft was at the gate loading passengers, a group of terrorists shot at the plane and threw incendiary grenades into the aircraft, killing 29 of the 167 passengers and one of the 10 crew members. The terrorists later hijacked a nearby Lufthansa 737.
    Fatal 747 events
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  8. 8 September 1974; TWA 707; flight 841; over the Ionian Sea near Greece: The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Athens to Rome. Crew reported trouble with one engine. Aircraft then entered a steep climb followed by a steep nose down spin before it crashed in the sea. The NTSB later determined that a high explosive was detonated in the aft cargo compartment, which led to a loss of control of the aircraft. All nine crew members and 79 passengers were killed.
    NTSB investigation report
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    15 November 1979; American Airlines 727; flight 444; en route from Chicago to Washington, DC: This was a scheduled domestic flight from Chicago to National Airport near Washington, DC. The Unabomber (Theodore Kaczynski) had shipped a package containing an explosive device, and it was triggered in flight. The bomb failed to explode, but it did generate large quantities of smoke. The crew diverted to Dulles Airport near Washington and landed without further incident. All six crew members and 72 passengers survived, though 12 passengers suffered from smoke inhalation. This was the only known bombing attempt on an aircraft by the Unabomber.

    A total of 16 bombing events between 1978 and 1995 were attributed to Kaczynski, and those explosions led to three deaths and a number of serious injuries. Investigators determined that if the bomb had successfully detonated, it would have led to the loss of the aircraft. He was arrested in 1996, plead guilty to all charges against him, and he is now serving a life sentence in a US federal prison.
    Boeing 727 plane crashes

  9. 11 August 1982, Pan Am 747, Flight 830; near Hawaii: The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Tokyo, to Honolulu, and while en route a bomb exploded under a seat, killing one passenger. One person who had been arrested in 1988 was jailed by Greece until 1996. He was arrested again in 1998 and eventually plead guilty to US charges in 2002.
    US Department of Justice report on sentencing of the bombing suspect

  10. 23 June 1985; Air India 747-200; Atlantic Ocean, near the Irish coast: The flight, which originated in Toronto and was en route to Bombay, had a bomb explode on board near the Irish coast. The aircraft broke up in flight and crashed into the sea. All 307 passengers and 22 crew were killed.

  11. 2 April 1986, TWA 727, Flight 840; near Athens, Greece: The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Rome to Athens. During descent, a bomb exploded in the cabin area, blowing a hole in the fuselage and causing four of the 114 passengers to be sucked out of the aircraft to their deaths. The aircraft was able to land safely. None of the seven crew members were killed.
    Boeing 727 plane crashes

  12. 21 December 1988; Pan Am 747-100; Flight 103; near Lockerbie, Scotland: The aircraft was about a half hour into a scheduled internationl flight from London's Heathrow airport to JFK airport in New York when a bomb detonated in the forward cargo compartment. The explosion led to an in flight breakup of the aircraft. All 16 crew and 243 passengers perished. Eleven people on the ground were also killed.
    Investigation report from the British AAIB
    Additional AAIB resources

    22 December 2001; American Airlines 767-300; flight 63; en route from Paris to Miami: While in cruise on a scheduled international flight from Paris, France to New York, NY, flight attendants noticed that passenger Richard Reid, a British citizen, was attempting to light some type of fuse that was attached to an explosive device in one of his shoes. Working together, passengers and flight attendants foiled the attempt to explode the device, and restrained Reid using among other things belts from passengers and drugs from an on board medical kit. The flight was diverted to Boston and landed without further incident. Later analysis showed that the shoe contained the explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP) and if detonated would have been powerful enough to blow a hole in the fuselage. None of the 12 crew members or the 184 passengers were injured.

    In November 2003, British citizen Saajid Mohammed Badat was arrested and later convicted of being part of a conspiracy that was to detonate on an aircraft a device that was identical to the one used by Reid. Badat had received a device, but did not attempt to detonate it on an aircraft.
    Boeing 767 plane crashes
    American Airlines plane crashes
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    25 December 2009; Northwest Airlines A330-300 (N820NW); Flight 253; near Detroit, MI: A passenger on a Northwest Airlines A330-300(N820NW) apparently attempted to detonate an explosive device while the aircraft was approaching Detroit. Flight 253 was an international flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, and early reports are that a passenger, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian national, allegedly had the device strapped to one of his legs, and that the device was triggered during descent (about 20 minutes before landing) and started a small fire.

    The flight, operated by Northwest Airlines using an Airbus 330-300 aircraft with 278 passengers and 11 crew members on board, landed safely, and the suspect, the only person injured, was transported to a local hospital for treatment of serious burns.

    Northwest Airlines plane crashes
    A330 plane crashes and serious incidents
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Other items of interest: list of commerical airliner bombings
AirSafe Journal article on airport security
AirSafe Journal article on threats from small surface to air missiles
AirSafe Journal article on criminal acts against civil aviation from 1990-1994

US and Canadian bombing events -- Revised: 19 November 2015