Malaysia Airlines Flight 653
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2008)|
|Date||4 December 1977|
|Summary||Hijacking, unsolved crash|
|Site||Tanjung Kupang, Johor, Malaysia|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 737-2H6|
|Flight origin||Penang International Airport|
|Last stopover||Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport|
|Destination||Singapore Int'l Airport (Paya Lebar)|
Malaysia Airlines Flight 653 (MH653), a Boeing 737-2H6 aircraft registered as 9M-MBD (delivered September 1972 as 9M-AQO), crashed at Tanjung Kupang, Johor, in Malaysia on the evening of 4 December 1977. It was the deadliest and first fatal accident for Malaysia Airlines, with all 93 passengers and 7 crew killed instantly. The flight was apparently hijacked as soon as it reached cruise altitude. The circumstances in which the hijacking and subsequent crash occurred remain unsolved.
Sequence of events
Flight MH653 departed Penang's Runway 22 at exactly 19:21 hours for Kuala Lumpur's Subang Airport (now known as Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport). Passengers included the Malaysian Agricultural Minister, Dato' Ali Haji Ahmad; Public Works Department Head, Dato' Mahfuz Khalid; and Cuban Ambassador to Japan, Mario García. The pilot in command was Captain G.K. Ganjoor. The aircraft crashed at Tanjong Kupang.
At approximately 19:54 hours, while at an altitude of 4,000 feet over Batu Arang and descending toward Subang's Runway 33, captain G.K. Ganjoor reported an "unidentified hijacker" onboard to Subang Tower. The tower immediately notified the authorities, who made emergency preparations at the airport.
The cockpit voice recordings indicate noises suggestive of the cockpit door being broken in, along with a reasonable amount of screaming and cursing. No noises are heard from within the cockpit to indicate any of the three occupants were conscious. The autopilot was then disconnected, possibly due to a pitch input by someone entering the cockpit and trying to control the aircraft. An investigator speculated that someone pulled back on the column, causing a pitch up, followed by an oscillation. This rapidly developed into a high amplitude phugoid oscillation that resulted in a rapid dive.
At 20:15 hours, all communication with flight MH653 was lost.
At 20:36 hours, the residents of Kampong Ladang, Tanjong Kupang in Johor reported hearing explosions and seeing burning wreckage in a swamp. The wreckage was later identified as Flight MH653. The plane hit the ground at a near-vertical angle at a very high speed. There were no survivors and not one recognizable body was found.
Airlines began using improved technology and safety systems more widely to reduce incidences of hijacked aircraft.
Currently, Malaysia Airlines does not operate direct flights from Penang (PEN) to Singapore (SIN). It only operates transit flights via Kuala Lumpur (KUL). The flight number MH 653 is not in use anymore.
- A Malay language novel used in secondary schools in Malaysia called Tragedi Empat Disember ("The Tragedy of December 4"), written by Dzul Karnain Ithnin, is a story about a plane crash in Tanjung Pangku (as opposed to Tanjung Kupang), with obvious references to the real disaster.
- D. B. Cooper, another one of the few cases of unsolved hijacking in the world
- "A hijacked Malaysian airlines jet with 100 persons aboard exploded and crashed Sunday night". Associated Press. 1977-12-04.
- "Malaysia Airlines flight crashes with 50 on board". Agence France Presse. 1995-09-15.
- "Worst MAS plane crash occurred in 1977". New Straits Times. 1995-09-15. p. 4.
- "328 killed in nine incidents". New Straits Times. 1996-09-01. p. 4.
- "Memorial tells a sad tale of neglect". Business Times. 2000-01-15.
- Dennis, William (2000-01-04). "Asian Rebound Boosts Startups, But Safely Remains A Concert [sic]". Aviation Daily.
- "Aviation Security Division." (Archive) Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia. Retrieved on 29 April 2012.
- "Names list on the Tanjung Kupang Memorial plaque"
- Ethiopia mourns crash victims. CNN, 25 November 1996 (see last paragraph).
- "Mass burial planned for unidentified victims". New Straits Times. 1995-09-18. p. 7.