Gulf Air Flight 771

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Gulf Air Flight 771
Boeing 737-2P6-Adv, Gulf Air AN0136824.jpg
A Gulf Air Boeing 737-200, similar to the one involved
Date23 September 1983
SummaryTerrorist bombing
SiteMina Jebel Ali
Aircraft typeBoeing 737-2P6
OperatorGulf Air
Flight originKarachi, Pakistan
DestinationAbu Dhabi Int'l Airport

Gulf Air Flight 771 was a flight from Karachi, Pakistan, to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. On 23 September 1983, while the Boeing 737-2P6[1] was on approach to Abu Dhabi International Airport, a bomb exploded in the baggage compartment. The plane crashed in the desert near Mina Jebel Ali between Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the UAE. All five crew members and 107 passengers died.

Crew and passengers[edit]

The flight's cockpit crew consisted of the following.

The cabin crew were of mixed nationalities, with only one Bahraini, Hashim Sayed Abdullah.[2]. Two of the crew were from the United Kingdom; Lyn Farthing and Sally Anne Townsend, the latter who was a native of Peterborough. Other nationalities of the crew included a Filipino, Indian, Pakistani, and an American.

Most of the passengers were Pakistani nationals, many returning to jobs in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain after spending the Eid al Adha holiday with their families in Pakistan.[3]


The bomb explosion led to a fire in the baggage compartment. Despite this crew managed to send a short distress signal. The aircraft then crashed into the ground, killing all 112 people on board.[1]


The investigation was carried out by the American National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and they released a 400-page report on their findings, which was not immediately published in the Persian Gulf region. The report was revealed in September 1987 by British politician Sir Dudley Smith, under pressure from the parents of British stewardess Lyn Farthing who perished in the crash.

The report included a description of the last moments in the cockpit, including a description of Omani captain Saoud Al Kindy praying as the plane nose-dived into the desert.[2]. The report mentioned that everything on board the flight was perfectly normal and voice transcripts showed the crew chatting among themselves. One asked the other if he was on duty the next day, to which he replied "No, I've got a day off tomorrow". That was followed by a sudden interruption and the recording showed the pilots making a frantic attempt to control the plane.[2]

The report indicated a bomb in the baggage hold as the primary cause of the accident, due to the following factors:[2]

  • A passenger who checked in baggage at Karachi but never boarded the plane.
  • The nature of injuries to passengers who were seated above the baggage hold.
  • A sudden interruption to an otherwise normally operating flight.
  • Data obtained from the aircraft's flight data recorder.


The bomb was apparently planted by the Abu Nidal organization, to convince Saudi Arabia to pay protection money to Nidal so as to avoid attacks on their soil.[4]

Death certificates issued for the passengers on board showed the cause of death as asphyxiation.[2]

As of August 2017, Gulf Air still uses the flight number 771, operating scheduled services between Islamabad and Bahrain.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Accident Synopsis". Archived from the original on 3 January 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e Gulf Daily News, Bahrain (23 September 1983) – Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ The Gulf Times, Qatar, (24 September 1983)
  4. ^ -> News -> World -> Abu Nidal behind 1983 Gulf Air bombing: Aide Archived 7 March 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Gulf Air flight GF771". FlightRadar24. FlightRadar24. Retrieved 23 September 2016.

External links[edit]