On this day (21 Dec) 1988 Pan American Flight 103, a Boeing 747 took off from London Heathrow bound for New York with 243 passengers and 16 crew members. After a bomb exploded in the cargo hold over Lockerbie, Scotland, all onboard were killed along with 11 people on the ground. The debris from the explosion was spread over 50 sq.-miles. 10,000 pieces of debris were retrieved, labelled and stored. It was evident from the damage to certain items that the bomb had been place in Samsonite suitcase. Megrahi was convicted under Scots law at a special trial in the Netherlands in 2001, following years of diplomatic wrangling between the UK, US and Libya over his extradition. Megrahi died, aged 60, in 2012 after he was controversially released early from his 27-year prison sentence on compassionate grounds while suffering from terminal cancer. Speaking from his deathbed in Libya in 2011, he said the true facts about the attack would become clear “hopefully in the near future” and claimed, “the West exaggerated my name”. The Lockerbie bomber committed the worst terrorist atrocity in British history, the Scottish Appeal Court concluded.
If we look back at the history of aviation we can see aviation has had to face changing threats year after year. These threats have palpably affected the pillars of aviation (speed, punctuality and security). As passengers, we’ve modified the way we travel e.g. the way we pack our bag. Airports/airlines have adapted to the growing security requirements with appropriate protocol, employee training and large investments to achieve efficient and cost-effective air travel. This means that legislators, airports, airlines, passengers and staff have had to adapt their processes; altering air travel, regulations and, in turn, the customer experience – this is air travel’s greatest ongoing challenge, maintaining the highest level of security, whilst affecting efficiency as little as possible and still continuing to offer the best experience and quality to passengers and airlines alike. It’s clearly no easy feat to achieve for the millions of passengers that fly worldwide.
In 1988 I had not long joined the UK military (aged 17) and this dreadful incident along with 9/11 (2001) had a lasting effect on me and influenced my career decisions. in 2011 I completed my MSc in Security Management at Loughborough University, and my dissertation was titled ‘the impact of Lockerbie and 9/11 on Aviation security’. Ultimately, Airport and Airline security is non-negotiable.