A packed passenger plane coming into land at Beirut Airport in Lebanon was hit by a stray bullet which pierced a hole in the main passenger cabin and penetrated an overhead locker but thankfully didn’t hit anyone onboard.
The Airbus A320 operated by local carrier Middle East Airlines (MEA) had just flown a short 40-minute flight from Amman in Jordan and was on final approach to Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport when it was hit by a stray bullet.
Officials believe the 11-year-old passenger plane wasn’t deliberately targeted, and the airport was not under attack. With terrorism and crime ruled out as likely reasons for the bullet strike, it’s widely believed that it was simply a reckless or careless discharge of a high-calibre firearm in an area surrounding the airport.
Local reporters point out that celebratory shooting into the air is commonplace across Lebanon, especially at weddings and funerals, and that this is the most likely source of the gunfire.
In fact, the chairman of MEA Mohamad El-Hout says that 7-8 planes parked around Beirut Airport are struck by stray bullets each year. This is, however, the first time that an airborne plane has been hit.
Unsurprisingly, Hout has demanded that legislators take action to stop residents around the airport firing guns into the air.
Lawmaker Paula Yacoubian was on the flight and said the bullet penetrated the cabin just above where she was sitting in seat 2F.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.