Three MEA Aircraft Damaged By Bullets Falling From The Sky

In certain parts of the world, it’s tradition to ‘ring in the New Year’ by firing weapons into the air. This practice, known as ‘celebratory gunfire,’ is responsible for landing stray bullets into three brand new MEA aircraft parked at Beirut’s Rafic-Hariri International Airport in Lebanon.

A321neo mea
The MEA aircraft had suffered from bullet damage. Photo: Airbus

Three brand new aircraft damaged

According to Lebanese website “The 961”, engineers found four of MEA’s brand new aircraft were damaged by stray bullets. As a result, the jets had to be quickly withdrawn from service and repaired before flying again. Simple Flying reached out to MEA for a statement, after which a spokesperson confirm with us that only three aircraft were affected. The aircraft type, however, was not confirmed.

The news came in the form of a Twitter post,  which shares four photos of bullet holes in aircraft fuselages.

Unfortunately, not much information was shared about which aircraft were affected and were only described as ‘brand new.’ Of course, with this information, we can ascertain that they would be some of MEA’s new Airbus A321neos that the airline has been accepting. In fact, just in the month of December, the airline took delivery of four A321neos.

Assuming the damaged aircraft are indeed A321neos, there are some possible candidates for the damaged jets using data from

  • T7-ME1 and ME4 departed an hour late on its first flight of the New Year,
  • T7-ME3 has not flown at all today,
  • and aircraft registered T7-ME6’s first flight of the day today was at 16:35 local time, giving maintenance teams enough time to make repairs.

Of course, this is us giving our best guess as the specific jets were not mentioned.

Celebratory gunfire

In certain parts of the world, such as the Balkans, Russia, and the Middle East, it is culturally acceptable to celebrate important events by firing weapons into the air. This can be done at weddings, religious holidays, and yes, to ring in the New Year as well.

“In Lebanon, one starts a new year by assessing damages caused by heavy showers of stray bullets shot mindlessly the night before,” Souad Lazkani of The 961 writes in their report. Indeed, this practice hasn’t just affected MEA but has also been responsible for injuring both adults and children, reportedly even killing some.

This has continued despite an official decision against the practice. It has become such a serious concern that Beirut Airport’s Security Service requested that Lebanon’s Interior Ministry take the necessary actions to suppress the tradition.

Beirut Airport
Beirut’s Rafic-Hariri International Airport is quite close to residential neighborhoods and urban areas. Photo: Google Maps

MEA’s A321neos

MEA took delivery of its very first A321neo this past July and has taken an additional six since then, for a total of seven. The total order for MEA is for nine of the longest A320 Family jet.

A321neo mea
A special milestone for Airbus, the aircraft bearing MSN 10000, was delivered to MEA this year. Photo: Airbus

According to Airbus, these aircraft are configured in a two-class layout with 28 seats in business and 132 seats in economy class. The aircraft also features the “latest generation in-flight entertainment system and high-speed connectivity.”

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