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Swissair 330

By Patrick Mondout

On February 21, 1970 a bomb exploded nearly 10 minutes after takeoff of a Swissair Convair 990 destined for Tel Aviv. The plane crashed on the flight back to the airport and all aboard were killed.

A Vienna-bound Caravelle suffered a similar bombing after takeoff from Frankfurt but managed to return safely to the airport.

Swiss government officials, who normally stay out of Middle-East politics soon blamed the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) for sabotaging the flight. (Palestinian terrorists had hijacked an El Al aircraft from the same airport in 1969.)

HB-ICD "Basel Land"

This is the actual Swissair CV990 that was bombed by terrorists in 1970. It is seen here in May 1966 at Tokyo's Haneda International Airport. Click on it for a larger versison.

Special thanks to Mel Lawrence for use of this photo. Find more of his photos at


On September 6, 1970, the PFLP managed to hijack four planes in one day (sound familiar?). The first was a Pan Am 747 over Europe. It was forced to land first in Beirut and later in Cairo where it was blown up after the passengers and crew we let out.

The second was a TWA 707. It was diverted along with a New York-bound Swissair DC-8 to the desert in Jordan. Finally, a BOAC VC-10 joined the other two in the Jordanian desert.

After the Swiss released three terrorists who had been imprisoned after an attack on an El Al plane at the Zurich Airport in 1969, the Swissair hostages were released. Similar deals were made for the release of the passengers and crew from the other two planes. All three aircraft were blown up.

Swissair 330 at a Glance
DateFebruary 21, 1970, 1:15pm
Flight number330
Registration NumberHB-ICD
Crew Fatalities9 of 9
Passenger Fatalities38 of 38
Total Fatalities47 of 47

Air Safety References:
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Beaty, David. The Naked Pilot: The Human Factor in Aircraft Accidents. Airlife Publishing: England, 1996.
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Faith, Nicholas. Black Box: The Air-Crash Detectives-Why Air Safety Is No Accident. Motorbooks International, 1997.
Gero, David. Aviation Disasters: The World's Major Civil Airliner Crashes Since 1950. Sutton, 2003.
Job, Macarthur. Air Disaster (Volume 1). Aerospace Publications: Fyshwick, Australia, 1995.
Job, Macarthur. Air Disaster (Volume 2). Aerospace Publications: Fyshwick, Australia, 1996.
Job, Macarthur. Air Disaster (Volume 3). Aerospace Publications: Fyshwick, Australia, 1999.
Krause, Shari Stamford. Aircraft Safety: Accident Investigations, Analyses & Applications. McGraw Hill, New York, 1996.
Macpherson, Malcolm. The Black Box : All-New Cockpit Voice Recorder Accounts Of In-flight Accidents. New York: William Morrow, 1998.
Macpherson, Malcolm. On a Wing and a Prayer: Interviews with Airline Disaster Survivors. Perennial, 2002.
Owen, David. Air Accident Investigation, 2nd Edition. Motorbooks International, 2002.
Stewart, Stanley. Emergency! - Crisis on the Flight Deck, 2nd Edition. Airlife Publishing, England, 2003.
Walters, James M. Aircraft Accident Analysis: Final Reports. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2000.
Wells, Alexander T. Commercial Aviation Safety, 3rd Edition. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2001.


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Airline: Swissair

Location: near Zurich

Aircraft: Convair CV-990

Date: February 21, 1970, 1:15pm

Total Fatalities: 47 of 47

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