TWA Flight 840 bombing

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from TWA Flight 840 (1986))
Jump to navigation Jump to search
TWA Flight 840
Boeing 727-231, Trans World Airlines - TWA AN0214403.jpg
A Boeing 727-231 of TWA, similar to the aircraft involved in the incident
Date April 2, 1986
Summary Bombing
Site Argos, Greece
Aircraft type Boeing 727-231
Operator Trans World Airlines
Registration N54340[1]
Flight origin Los Angeles International Airport
1st stopover John F. Kennedy International Airport
2nd stopover Leonardo da Vinci Int'l Airport
3rd stopover Athens (Ellinikon) Int'l Airport
Destination Cairo International Airport
Passengers 115[2]
Crew 7[2]
Fatalities 4
Injuries 7[3]
Survivors 118[2]

Trans World Airlines Flight 840 was a regularly scheduled flight from Los Angeles to Cairo via New York City, Rome, and Athens on April 2, 1986. About 20 minutes before landing in Athens, a bomb was detonated on the aircraft while it was over Argos, Greece, blasting a hole in the plane's starboard side. Four passengers were killed after being sucked out, while another 7 were injured by flying shrapnel and debris. The aircraft then made a successful emergency landing with no further loss of life.[4]


The Boeing 727-231 involved in the incident was delivered to TWA in 1974, with the registration N54340.[5][6] It was fitted with 3 P&W WJT8D-5 Turbojet engines.[5]


The flight originated in Los Angeles on a Boeing 747 and transferred to a Boeing 727 in Rome for the remainder of the flight.[7] After taking off from Athens, Greece, the flight remained uneventful until around 20 minutes before landing, when the aircraft was at around 11,000 ft.[8] A bomb hidden underneath seat 10F during an earlier leg of the flight detonated, blowing a hole in the fuselage.[9]

Four American passengers, including an eight-month-old infant, were ejected through the hole to their deaths below. The victims were identified as a Colombian-American man; and a woman, her daughter, and her infant granddaughter.[7] Seven others on the aircraft were injured by shrapnel as the cabin suffered a rapid decompression. However, as the aircraft was in the middle of its approach to Athens, the explosion wasn't as catastrophic as it would have been at a higher altitude.[7] The remaining 110 passengers survived the incident as pilot Richard "Pete" Petersen made an emergency landing.[7]


The bodies of three of the four victims were later recovered from an unused Greek Air Force landing strip near Argos; the fourth was found in the sea.[7]

A group calling itself the "Arab Revolutionary Cells" claimed responsibility, saying it was committed in retaliation for American imperialism and clashes with Libya in the Gulf of Sidra the week before.[10]


Investigators concluded that the bomb contained one pound of plastic explosive. As the bomb was placed on by the floor of the cabin, the explosion tore a hole downward, where the fuselage absorbed the most damage. It is suspected it had been placed under the seat cushion on a previous journey by a Lebanese woman (later arrested, never convicted) who worked for the Abu Nidal Organisation, which was dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel.[11] They had previously hijacked and bombed several other aircraft, as well as committing various terrorist attacks in parts of the Middle East.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FAA Registry (N54340)". Federal Aviation Administration. 
  2. ^ a b c William E. Smith; John Borrell; Mirka Gondicas (1986-04-14). "Terrorism Explosion on Flight 840". Time. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  3. ^ BBC (1986-04-02). "On This Day - 1986: Bomb tears hole in airliner over Greece". BBC News. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  4. ^ TWA Pilot's Wife Says Her Husband is a Hero With PM-Plane-Bomb Bjt
  5. ^ a b "Aircraft N54340 Data". Retrieved 1 April 2018. 
  6. ^ "FAA Registry". Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "4 killed as bomb rips T.W.A plane on way to Athens". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2 April 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  8. ^ "'Every minute I'm alive is a loan': TWA bombing survivor and author tells stories of second chances". 26 June 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  10. ^ Bomb Blast On Airliner Kills 4 Jet Lands Safely In Greece
  11. ^ "Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)". 11 December 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  12. ^ "Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) attacked Airports & Airlines target (Apr. 2, 1986, Italy)". MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base. April 3, 2001. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved August 26, 2012.