Damage Location

Each aircraft had the forward cargo hold as the locus of damage.

United Airlines Flight 811:

"The primary damage to the airplane consisted of a hole on the right side in the area of the forward lower lobe cargo door, approximately 10 by 15 feet large."
NTSB/AAR 92/02 Page 4

Air India Flight 182:

"There is considerable circumstantial and other evidence to indicate that the initial event was an explosion occurring in the forward cargo compartment."
Canadian Aviation Safety Board Air India 23 June 1985, page 58

Pan Am Flight 103:

"The initial explosion triggered a sequence of events which effectively destroyed the structural integrity of the forward fuselage."
UK AAIB Report 2/90 Page 43

"The direct explosive forces produced a large hole in the fuselage structure and disrupted the main cabin floor.
UK AAIB Report 2/90 Page 56

"Containers and items of cargo ejected from the fuselage aperture in the forward hold, together with pieces of detached structure, collided with the empennage severing most of the left tailplane, disrupting the outer half of the right tailplane, and damaging the fin leading edge structure."
UK AAIB Report 2/90 Page 57

Trans World Airlines Flight 800:

"Investigators have said the right side of the Boeing 747, near where the wings meet the fuselage, suffered the most smoke and fire damage." "A computer simulation of the final moments of Trans World Airlines Flight 800 has placed the blast that downed the plane in a small
site on the jet's right side,..." "The simulation shows that almost everything in the first spray of metal, luggage and other material blown from the plane came from a confined area above and
ahead of the right wing."
News Reports from Associated Press, Reuters, major newspapers, press releases from NTSB, FBI

Comment: The distinct crash similarities of aircraft type, radar returns, wreckage plot, sudden short loud sound, abrupt power cut, fodded engines, inflight damage, missing bodies, torn off noses, and start place of damage qualify three aircraft into one class from which the deduction may be made that one unifying cause had the same effects. Another accident with the same similarities except for a torn off nose and less wreckage may also be included in that class. The unifying cause for all four accidents is the inadvertent opening of the forward cargo door inflight. 27 Mar 97

Boeing 747 nose picts right side cargo door
811 picture
AD Airworthiness Directive 79-17-02
Airworthiness Directive Amendment to 89-05-54 amending 88-12-04
Airworthiness Directive 88-12-04 Boeing 747
More pictures of UAL 811 cargo door hole
Cargo door accidents