PAN AM flight 103, taxied down London’s Heathrow airport at approximately 6:04 P.M., on December, 21st, 1988 en-route to New York City (Rosenburg, 2014). With 243 passengers and 16 crew members, “Clipper 103” as it was identified, had no clue they had roughly 38 minutes to live (Rosenburg, 2014). As the crew approached the oceanic portion of the flight the pilot requested permission from the tower to proceed with their journey over the Atlantic Ocean. This was the last time air traffic control would have verbal contact with the aircraft (Ushynskyi, 2009). A midair explosion sent all 259 people on board to a fiery grave. The remnants of the explosion rained down on the unsuspecting town of Lockerbie, Scotland, claiming 11 more lives, and creating a crime scene 845 square miles in area. The residents described it as producing a force similar to that of an earthquake (Federal Bureau of Investigation, n.d.).
Mass disasters, especially acts of terrorism, present unique challenges to the forensic scientist. Disaster sites always present the stress of identifying multiple (and often unrecognizable), victims, and often times encompasses massive areas of land that must be methodically searched for evidence (Federal Bureau of Investigation, n.d.). The case involving Pan Am flight 103 was no exception. The wreckage of the flight was scattered over an area of 845 square miles across Scotland. This presented logistical and jurisdictional issues for investigators. International cooperation was crucial in the successful solving of this case (Federal Bureau of Investigation, n.d.).
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) along with law enforcement agencies from Germany, Austria,...
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...iation and the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act. The United States also strengthened its stance on state sponsored terrorism, bringing Libya to its knees through economic sanctions and political isolationism. Libya eventually took responsibility for the attacks and agreed to pay compensation to the families of the victims (Kash, 1994).
Unfortunately, Pan Am Airlines was also brought to justice and found guilty of failing to prevent the bomb from being smuggled onboard. They were charged with wilful misconduct (Ushynskyi, 2009). The bombing would not be the last act of terror witnessed by the world involving aircrafts. The attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, once again forced legislatures to once again form policy to deal with terror, and forensic scientists was again picking up the millions of pieces left behind from the devastation (Birkland, 2004).
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