Take-off and landing are the most dangerous phases of a flight. What happened to a Middle East Airlines MEA Airbus A320 on approach to Beirut is not one of the usual risk factors. The jet, registration OD-MRM, was hit by a stray bullet.
Lebanese presenter and politician Paula Yacoubian was on board the plane, which came from Ammann in Jordan. She shared two photos on Twitter of the damage I found above the overhead bins above seats 2F and 2D. MEA boss Mohamad El-Hout confirmed the incident to Reuters news agency and said no one was injured.
The airline chief said seven to eight planes a year are hit on the ground by stray bullets fired near Beirut airport. The current incident is the first in which a plane was hit in the air.
Guns would be fired in salutes on ceremonial occasions or during speeches by politicians. “This practice of shooting in the air in Lebanon must be stopped,” El-Hout said. “It is a source of danger for air traffic and the airport.” Paula Yacoubian also called for an end to this in her tweet.
It’s not the first time El-Hout has had to address the issue. On New Year’s Eve 2020/2021, three MEA aircraft parked at Beirut Airport were damaged by bullets, including an Airbus A321 Neo. At that time, there was not only property damage in Lebanon. Several people, including children, were injured by bullets on New Year’s Eve. Some victims even died from their injuries.
Aegean Airlines temporarily suspended all flights to Beirut in January 2022 because there was a suspicion that one of the Greek airline’s planes could also have been damaged by a bullet. Aegean is now flying back to Beirut.
This article was written by Timo Nowack
The original of this article “Airbus A320 hit by bullet on approach to Beirut Airport” comes from aeroTelegraph.