|Date||12 October 1967|
|Aircraft type||de Havilland DH.106 Comet 4B|
|Operator||Cyprus Airways operated by|
British European Airways
|Flight origin||Ellinikon International Airport, Athens, Greece|
|Destination||Nicosia International Airport, Nicosia, Cyprus|
Cyprus Airways Flight 284 was a de Havilland Comet that exploded during a flight to Nicosia International Airport on 12 October 1967 after a bomb detonated in the cabin. The airliner crashed in the Mediterranean Sea and all 66 passengers and crew members on board were killed.
BEA was a shareholder in Cyprus Airways, and the two airlines had an agreement for all of Cyprus Airways' jet services to be operated by BEA Comets. The night before the crash, the aircraft departed from London Heathrow Airport to Ellinikon International Airport in Athens, Greece, arriving just after 3:00 a.m. local time (1:00 a.m. UTC) on 12 October. At about 4:30 a.m., the aircraft departed Athens on the regular Cyprus Airways flight to Nicosia with 59 passengers and a crew of seven on board.
About 45 minutes into the flight, control of the aircraft was transferred from air traffic controllers (ATC) at Athens to their counterparts in Nicosia. The crew contacted Nicosia's controllers by radio, but when ATC replied, no response was received from the aircraft.
As Flight 284 was flying toward Cyprus at approximately 29,000 feet (8,839 m), the aircraft exploded about 100 miles (161 km) southeast of the Greek island of Rhodes and about 22 miles (35 km) south of the Turkish coastal town of Demre.
The flight was scheduled to proceed to Cairo after stopping in Nicosia. Eight passengers were booked on a Middle East Airlines flight the next day.
Recovery of remains and wreckage
Within a day of the crash, 51 bodies were recovered from the sea. Contrary to initial reports, none were wearing life jackets. Some were wearing wristwatches that had stopped at 5:25. Investigators concluded that the aircraft had suffered some form of damage during the initial radio call to Nicosia ATC at about 5:15 a.m. and had disintegrated in flight about eight minutes later. They estimated the aircraft's wreckage to be scattered on the seabed over an area of about 35 square miles (91 km2) at a depth of 9,000–10,000 feet (2,743–3,048 m) below the surface.
After a drop tank was recovered from the sea, investigators hypothesised that the aircraft crashed following a mid-air collision with a military aircraft. However, searchers also found a cushion from one of the Comet's passenger seats floating on the surface of the sea, which was found to contain evidence of a military-grade plastic explosive. The mid-air collision theory was discarded and no attempt was undertaken to retrieve any submerged wreckage.
The seat cushion and other objects from the cabin were analysed by experts in forensic explosives at the UK's Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment, the first time that the institution performed such an analysis.
- Flight International, 5 September 1968, p.361
- de Havilland DH.106 Comet production list Archived 12 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 24 June 2010.
- Aviation Safety Network G-ARCO occurrence synopsis retrieved 24 June 2010.
- "New Comet Clues", Flight International magazine, 16 November 1967, p.796 (online archive version), retrieved 24 June 2010
- Flight International, 19 October 1967, p.636
- Flight International, 19 October 1967, p.637
- "Sensor", Flight International magazine, 7 December 1967, p.929 (online archive version), retrieved 24 June 2010
- "No Salvage for Comet", Flight International magazine, 30 November 1967, p.897 (online archive version), retrieved 24 June 2010
- Higgs, Douglas Geoffrey (1982). "Explosives sabotage and its investigation in civil aircraft". Journal of Occupational Accidents. Elsevier Ltd. 3 (4): 249–258. doi:10.1016/0376-6349(82)90002-5.