Expert Tells Court Lockerbie Bomb Report 'Error'

Published May 27th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

An air accident investigator has told the Lockerbie trial there was a significant mathematical error in the official report on the disaster, according to a report.  

In highly technical but potentially crucial evidence, Christopher Protheroe was quoted by BBC as testifying he informed prosecution lawyers in a meeting on Monday that a complex formula used to calculate blast wave effects after an initial explosion had been incorrectly applied in the 1990 report.  

He admitted that correct calculation of the so-called "mach stem" phenomenon would indicate that the bomb which destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland went off closer to its fuselage skin than originally thought.  

He described how the blast initially blew a 20 by 20 inch (50 cm) hole in the fuselage and created further "starburst fractures" and "petalling" of the plane's metal skin from the subsequent explosion of hot gases.  

AAIB photographs produced in court of a partial three- dimensional reconstruction of the smashed plane showed clear evidence, Protheroe said, of a "shatter zone" in the left front cargo bay almost directly under the second "A" in the Pan Am logo on the side of the jet's giant forward cabin.  

The trial was adjourned again, this time to allow a baggage container from the aircraft to be brought into court.  

Air accident investigators have reconstructed the metal container, which is too big to be brought through the courtroom doors, said the report.  

It may have to be taken apart and rebuilt again in front of the three judges in a process which could take a whole day, said BBC –  


© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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