Malaysian Airline System 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|
|Operator||Malaysian Airline System|
|Flight origin||Penang International Airport|
|Last stopover||Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport|
|Destination||Singapore Int'l Airport (Paya Lebar)|
Malaysian Airline System Flight 653 (MH653) was a scheduled domestic flight from Penang to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, operated by Malaysian Airline System (MAS). On the evening of 4 December 1977, the Boeing 737-200 aircraft flying the service crashed at Tanjung Kupang, Johor, in Malaysia. It was the first—and is the second-deadliest—fatal air crash for Malaysia Airlines (as MAS is now known); 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 653 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 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, the crew reported to Subang Tower that an "unidentified hijacker" was on board. The tower immediately notified the authorities, who made emergency preparations at the airport.
At 20:15 hours, all communication with the aircraft 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 the aircraft; it had 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 instances of hijacked aircraft.
- 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.
- The aircraft was a Boeing 737-200 model; Boeing assigns a unique customer code for each company that buys one of its aircraft, which is applied as a suffix to the model number at the time the aircraft is built. The code for Malaysian Airline System (and its successor Malaysia Airlines) is H6, hence "737-2H6"
- "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.
- "Hijacking description, Boeing 737-2H6 9M-MBD". Aviation Safety Network. Flight Safety Foundation. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- "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.
- "Names list on the Tanjung Kupang Memorial plaque"
- 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.
- 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.