Twenty-eight years ago, a bomb exploded on a Philippine Airlines plane, seriously wounding the pilot. The crew and passengers experienced a harrowing experience after the explosion. The crew did a great job landing the quad jet in Japan.

Flight Details

There was a flight from Manila, Philippines to Tokyo, Japan with a stop in the Philippines. The aircraft's vital control systems were damaged in a bomb attack while it was operating the second leg of the flight from the Philippines to Tokyo. The cockpit crew of Flight 434 consisted of a veteran Captain, First Officer, and Flight Engineer.

A passenger named Ramzi Yousef planted a bomb on the plane during the first leg of the flight. He put the bomb under the seat with the timer set. The 1993 World Trade Center bombing was carried out by Yousef, a convicted terrorist.

After boarding the plane in Manila, Yousef took off his shoes and went into the lavatories to get the batteries, wiring, and spark source that were hidden in his heels. He was able to get into the flight with no obstacles because he hid them below a level that metal detectors couldn't detect. Yousef sneaked through the security check with a bottle of contact lens solution The bomb was assembled after he removed an altered Casio digital watch from his wrist. The timer was set for four hours later, which was roughly the time at which Flight 434 would leave for Tokyo.

Philippine Airlines Boeing 747-200 (registration EI-BWF). Image: Wikimedia Commons

He returned to his seat after putting the bomb in his Dopp kit. He requested permission to move to seat 26K after learning that the centre fuel tank is underneath the seat. He was given permission to move to seat 26K from his assigned seat after he claimed that he could see better from that seat.

He hid the bomb under seat 26K after moving to seat 26K. The bomb was tucked into this seat, a window seat on the right-hand side of the plane, because he thought it would cause severe damage and bring the plane down. The plane's cabin configuration made the seat 26K two rows forward of the center fuel tank, which is a good thing. Yousef disembarked and more passengers boarded the plane in a smooth landing.


A Philippine Airlines flight was delayed for 38 minutes at the airport before taking off. Yousef's seat was taken by a young man who was on his way back from a business trip. There were 273 passengers and 20 members of crew on the flight. The bomb exploded when it was sailing over the sea to the east of Japan.

Explosion Rendering. Image: Mayday: Air Disaster

The engines were not affected by the blast because the seat 26K was not close to the fuel tanks. The blast ripped a two-foot square portion of the cabin floor toward the cargo hold underneath, killing one passenger and injuring 10 others in the adjacent seats. The purser said after the explosion.

I heard a bomb explode. Two people are dead and another is wounded.

The captain told Comendador to take action.

The cockpit crew members handled the situation calmly, even though they were scared, because they were aware that any mistakes could cost the lives of hundreds of passengers. Comendador was watching for depressurization. The pilots corrected the pressurization problem after the pressurization alert went off.

There's a hole. The comendador told the man.

The smoke is too heavy below.

Comendador was told to "take action."

Comendador said the smoke removal procedure was done.

Don't go up. Comendador was told to check if the bomb was real.

It is a bomb, sir. Comendador said yes.

The bomb missed the engine, but the flight engineer noticed it. The man who took Yousef's seat fell through the hole. The cabin crew placed an oxygen mask over his face in order to make it appear that he was still alive, even though he was dead. The attendants put a blanket in the hole.

Image: Disaster Breakdown

They all would have gotten sucked in if the hole had gotten bigger.

The blast put the lives of everyone on the plane at risk. There were cables that connected to the steering controls of the Captain and First Officer that were affected by the explosion.

Diversion to Okinawa

The US Government Publishing Office stated that the altitude of the plane was controlled by the captain and his crew. The pilots made a mayday call out to Japan's air traffic control after losing control of the plane. An American controller from a US military base on the island took over after the Japanese controller replied in Japanese.

I'm taking over Filipinos. Naha will be the place where I will return you.

Image: Disaster Breakdown

The plane was in the air for almost an hour before it made an emergency landing. The autopilot was turned off after the captain told the passengers to remain in their seats and tofasten their seat belts.

The pilots of the plane saved the lives of more than 200 passengers and 20 crew members when they made a safe landing at Naha Airport in Okinawa. The plane dumped fuel and was inspected by a US Air Force plane before landing.

Conclusion And Aftermath

The crew members were questioned by the Japanese investigators for 12 hours. The device used in the Bojinka plot was described in the first phase as a "Mark II" PETN "microbomb". It was a test run for that plan.

The Bojinka plot was a series of terror attacks planned by Yousef and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that involved blowing up eleven US airliners. The bomb was designed to sneak through airport security checks undetected. Liquid nitroglycerin was used as a disguise.

The aftermath of the bombing, photographed by the United States Diplomatic Security Service

Yousef was arrested in Pakistan after police discovered his plan. He was sentenced to life in prison in the New York Supreme Court after being extradited to the US.

The flight deck and cabin crew members were praised for their professionalism. After the bombing incident, most of the crew members resigned and moved to other countries, but the pilots stayed in the Philippines. The captain passed away in 2007. The U.S. Government Publishing Office paid tribute to a man who said something.

On December 11, 1994 and his testimony against Ramzi Yousef, I would like to praise Captain Reyes. The United States and other countries are indebted to him for his bravery.

Philippine Airlines still uses an A321 or A330 for their flights from the Philippines to Japan. The airline flies to both Tokyo and Haneda.

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