Singapore Airlines Flight 117
On March 26, 1991, Singapore Airlines Flight 117 was hijacked
Aircraft hijacking
Aircraft hijacking is the unlawful seizure of an aircraft by an individual or a group. In most cases, the pilot is forced to fly according to the orders of the hijackers. Occasionally, however, the hijackers have flown the aircraft themselves, such as the September 11 attacks of 2001...

 in flight by four male passengers who claimed to be Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

is. The aircraft landed at Singapore. After their demands were not met, the hijackers threatened to begin killing hostage
A hostage is a person or entity which is held by a captor. The original definition meant that this was handed over by one of two belligerent parties to the other or seized as security for the carrying out of an agreement, or as a preventive measure against certain acts of war...

s; before their deadline expired commandos stormed the plane, killing the hijackers and freeing all hostages unhurt.


The plane, an Airbus A310
Airbus A310
The Airbus A310 is a medium- to long-range twin-engine widebody jet airliner. Launched in July 1978, it was the second aircraft created by Airbus Industrie,a consortium of European aerospace companies, Airbus is now fully owned by EADS and since 2001 has been known as Airbus SAS. the consortium of...

 with registration 9V-STP, had taken off from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport
Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport
Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport , LTSAAS , often called Subang Airport or Subang Skypark, is an airport located in Subang, Selangor, Malaysia, and primarily serves general aviation and some turboprop domestic flights...

 near Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the second largest city in Malaysia by population. The city proper, making up an area of , has a population of 1.4 million as of 2010. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.2 million...

, Malaysia at 18:15 SST
Singapore Standard Time
Singapore Standard Time or Singapore Time based in Singapore uses a time zone eight hours in advance of UTC .- History :...

, with 118 passengers and 11 crew on board. The plane was hijacked in mid-air while en route to Singapore Changi Airport
Singapore Changi Airport
Singapore Changi Airport , Changi International Airport, or simply Changi Airport, is the main airport in Singapore. A major aviation hub in Southeast Asia, it is about north-east from the commercial centre in Changi, on a site....

, and landed safely at Changi Airport at 22:15, where an executive group of officials from the Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (Singapore)
The Ministry of Defence is a ministry of the Government of Singapore entrusted with overseeing the national defence needs of the Republic of Singapore. It is the headquarters of the Singapore Armed Forces...

, Ministry of Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs (Singapore)
The Ministry of Home Affairs is a ministry of the Government of Singapore responsible for public safety, civil defence and immigration. It is also known as the Home Team. It is headed by the Minister for Home Affairs....

 and Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts
Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts
The Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts is a ministry of the Government of Singapore...

, along with Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines Limited is the flag carrier airline of Singapore. Singapore Airlines operates a hub at Changi Airport and has a strong presence in the Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and "Kangaroo Route" markets...

 representatives and a negotiating team, were all standing by.

The hijackers, who claimed to be members of the Pakistan Peoples Party
Pakistan Peoples Party
The Pakistan Peoples Party , is a democratic socialist political party in Pakistan affiliated with Socialist International. Pakistan People's Party is the largest political party of Pakistan...

 (PPP), demanded the release of former Prime Minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister of Pakistan
The Prime Minister of Pakistan , is the Head of Government of Pakistan who is designated to exercise as the country's Chief Executive. By the Constitution of Pakistan, Pakistan has the parliamentary democratic system of government...

 Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto was a democratic socialist who served as the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan in two non-consecutive terms from 1988 until 1990 and 1993 until 1996....

's husband, Asif Ali Zardari
Asif Ali Zardari
Asif Ali Zardari is the 11th and current President of Pakistan and the Co-Chairman of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party . He is also the widower of Benazir Bhutto, who served two nonconsecutive terms as Prime Minister....

 (current President of Pakistan
President of Pakistan
The President of Pakistan is the head of state, as well as figurehead, of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Recently passed an XVIII Amendment , Pakistan has a parliamentary democratic system of government. According to the Constitution, the President is chosen by the Electoral College to serve a...

), as well as other PPP members from jail. The hijackers also required the plane to be refuelled in order to fly to Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. The next morning, March 27, at 02:30, the hijackers pushed two stewards out of the aircraft, after the plane had been moved to outer tarmac.

At 06:45 the hijackers gave a last 5-minute deadline, and issued a threat to kill one passenger every ten minutes if their demands were still not met. With three minutes to go, orders were given to initiate the assault: the Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation
Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation
The Singapore Armed Forces Commando Formation is an elite branch of the Singapore Armed Forces . An offensive unit, it specialises in pre-emptive operations involving small groups of specially trained soldiers in enemy territory...

 (SAF CDO FN) stormed the plane in a 30-second sweep, killing all four hijackers with no injuries to hostages. The plane was completely secured by 06:50.


Prime Minister of Singapore
Prime Minister of Singapore
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore is the head of the government of the Republic of Singapore. The President of Singapore appoints as Prime Minister a Member of Parliament who, in his opinion, is most likely to command the confidence of a majority of MPs.The office of Prime Minister...

 Goh Chok Tong
Goh Chok Tong
Goh Chok Tong is the Senior Minister of Singapore and the chairman of the central bank of Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore. He also served as the second Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore from 28 November 1990 to 12 August 2004, succeeding Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime...

 commended all those involved in handling the ordeal and rescue mission for their swiftness and efficiency. Captain Stanley Lim, the pilot
An aviator is a person who flies an aircraft. The first recorded use of the term was in 1887, as a variation of 'aviation', from the Latin avis , coined in 1863 by G. de la Landelle in Aviation Ou Navigation Aérienne...

 of the flight, and Superintendent Foo Kia Juah, chief police
Singapore Police Force
The Singapore Police Force is the main agency tasked with maintaining law and order in the city-state. Formerly known as the Republic of Singapore Police , it has grown from an 11-man organisation to a 38,587 strong force...

 negotiator, were awarded the Public Service Star
Bintang Bakti Masyarakat
The Bintang Bakti Masyarakat , instituted in 1963, is awarded to any person who has rendered valuable public service to the people of Singapore, or who has distinguished themselves in the field of arts and letters, sports, the sciences, business, the professions and the labour movement.Bars may be...

 for their roles. The SAF CDO FN were awarded the Medal for Valour
Pingat Keberanian
The Pingat Keberanian , instituted in 1987,is a Singaporean decoration awarded to any person who has performed an act of courage and gallantry in circumstances of personal danger.-Description:...

, and others in the negotiating team were given Presidential Certificates of Commendation.

Several years later, at the unveiling of the Singapore Special Operations Force, Singapore Armed Forces
Singapore Armed Forces
The Singapore Armed Forces is the military arm of the Total Defence of the Republic of Singapore; as well as the military component of the Ministry of Defence. The SAF comprises three branches: the Singapore Army, the Republic of Singapore Air Force and the Republic of Singapore Navy...

 acknowledged that the unit involved in resolving the incident was a classified secret, elite counter-terrorism
Counter-terrorism is the practices, tactics, techniques, and strategies that governments, militaries, police departments and corporations adopt to prevent or in response to terrorist threats and/or acts, both real and imputed.The tactic of terrorism is available to insurgents and governments...

 and special reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 and operations unit formed in the mid-1980s.

Singapore Airlines continues to use Flight 117 operating from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. The flight now flies to KLIA instead of Subang.

The aircraft

The hijacked aircraft had been delivered to Singapore Airlines on 22 November 1988. It continued in service after the incident, until it was transferred to Spanish airline Air Plus Comet
Air Plus Comet
Air Comet was an airline based in Madrid, Spain. It operated scheduled long-haul services from Madrid to 13 destinations in Central and South America, as well as services in Europe. Its main base was Terminal 1 at Madrid Barajas Airport...

 on 11 May 2001. On 31 May 2003, it was retired and is currently stored in the Mojave Air & Space Port in the United States.

See also

  • Counter-terrorism in Singapore
    Counter-terrorism in Singapore
    Counter-terrorism in Singapore is a series of measures implemented in Singapore to detect and prevent terrorism, and to minimise damage from such terrorist acts should they occur. These measures involve all levels of society, including defence, internal security, border and infrastructure security,...

  • List of accidents and incidents on commercial airliners
  • Air France Flight 8969
    Air France Flight 8969
    Air France Flight 8969 was an Air France flight that was hijacked on 24 December 1994 by the Armed Islamic Group at Algiers, where they killed three passengers, with the intention to crash it on the Eiffel tower in Paris. When the aircraft reached Marseille, the GIGN, an intervention group of the...

    - a similar incident which resulted in forces storming the aircraft.
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