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Data shows plane hijackings have declined after 9/11

In the years following the 9/11 attack, the number of hijacking incidents decreased to 10 in 2002, 9 in 2003, 4 in 2004 and 1 in 2005

An EgyptAir flight MS181 with 60 people on board and bound for Cairo from Alexandria was hijacked on Tuesday afternoon. The flight which landed in Cyprus was initially believed to have been hijacked by an armed man but eventually no explosives were found. By end of day, all those aboard the plane were freed and the hijacker arrested.

The first hijacking of a commercial flight happened way back in 1948 when the Cathay Pacific Miss Macau became the target of the hijackers. The incident claimed 26 lives. According to a report by the Aviation Safety Network, even though it was the first incident, it is among the top 10 deadliest plane hijackings in the history.

The report that doesn’t take into account corporate jet and military transport hijacking, ranks the year 2001, when four airplanes hijacked by 19 terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center in America, as the deadliest year with 268 total casualties. The 9/11 incident killed the most number of people on board airplanes (265 in the four hijacked planes).

The statistics presented in the report goes on to show that even though 2001 was the peak year for casualties due to airplane hijacking, the number of incidents has sharply fallen ever since due to heightened security measures.

For instance, in the years following the deadly terror attack, the number of hijacking incidents decreased to 10 in 2002, 9 in 2003, 4 in 2004 and 1 in 2005. That’s a 96% decline in five years (26 incidents of hijacking in 2000). The figures have remained in the same range ever since.

After the 9/11 attack, the second worst year for air travel was 1996. That year, in a skyjacking incident, 125 of the 175 people on board an Ethiopian Airlines flight lost their lives as three Ethiopian hijackers took control over it and crash landed the plane in the Indian Ocean.

The year 1977 saw two incidents of major plane commandeering —the Lufthansa Flight hijack and the Malaysian Airlines Flight hijack that led to it becoming the third deadliest year for air travel. Though no one died in the Lufthansa incident, all 93 aboard the Malaysian Airlines flight lost their lives.

The EgyptAir hijacking of Tuesday was the first such incident in two years. In 2014, an Ethiopian Airlines flight travelling to Rome from the Ethiopian capital was hijacked by the co-pilot. There was no loss of lives recorded.

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