4 December 1977
Paya Lebar Air Base
| Hijacking, unsolved crash|
Tanjung Kupang, Johor, Malaysia
Malaysia Airlines Flight 2133, Malaysian Airline System Fl, Japan Airlines Flight 715, TAP Portugal Flight 425, 1977 Benghazi Libyan Ar
Malaysian Airline System Flight 653 (MH653) was a scheduled domestic flight from Penang to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, operated by Malaysian Airline System (MAS). On the evening of 4 December 1977, the Boeing 737-200 aircraft flying the service crashed at Tanjung Kupang, Johor, Malaysia, while purportedly being diverted by hijackers to Singapore. It was the first fatal air crash for Malaysia Airlines (as the airline is now known), with all 93 passengers and 7 crew killed. The flight was apparently hijacked as soon as it reached cruise altitude. The circumstances in which the hijacking and subsequent crash occurred remain unsolved.
Malaysian Airline System Flight 653 Wikipedia
The aircraft involved was a Boeing 737-2H6 registered as 9M-MBD. It had been delivered new to MAS in September 1972 with registration 9M-AQO.
Flight 653 departed from Runway 22 at Penang International Airport at exactly 19:21 for Kuala Lumpur's Subang Airport (now known as Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport). Passengers included the Malaysian Agricultural Minister, Dato' Ali Haji Ahmad; Public Works Department Head, Dato' Mahfuz Khalid; and Cuban Ambassador to Japan, Mario García Incháustegui (DE).
At approximately 19:54, while at an altitude of 4,000 feet (1,200 m) over Batu Arang and descending toward Runway 33 at Subang Airport, the crew reported to Subang Tower that an "unidentified hijacker" was on board. The tower immediately notified the authorities, who made emergency preparations at the airport.
A few minutes later, the crew radioed: "We're now proceeding to Singapore. Good night." Investigators heard a series of gunshots in the last few minutes of the cockpit voice recorder, concluding that both the pilot and co-pilot were fatally shot by the hijacker, which left the plane "professionally uncontrolled". At 20:15, all communication with the aircraft was lost. At 20:36, the residents of Kampong Ladang, Tanjung Kupang in Johor reported hearing explosions and seeing burning wreckage in a swamp. The wreckage was later identified as the aircraft; it had hit the ground at a near-vertical angle at a very high speed. There were no survivors.
The full circumstances of the hijacking and crash were never solved. However, airport officials at Kuala Lumpur claimed pilots had radioed that members of the Japanese Red Army had hijacked the plane. In 1996, CNN reporters wrote that the hijackers were in fact identified as Red Army members, but this has not been confirmed. All recovered remains were x-rayed in an attempt to discover evidence of a projectile or weapon, but no such evidence was ever found. The remains of the victims were interred in a mass burial.
After the incident, the Aviation Security Unit of the Airport Standard Division of the Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia was established.