The Maximum Number of Passengers Carried at a Time by a Passenger Aircraft

The aviation industry is, by its very nature, a society with extremely strict rules. Thanks to these strict rules, safety and security levels have reached the highest levels. In addition, many extraordinary events have occurred in the history of aviation. In one of such events, a record that is difficult to repeat and break in the history of aviation, took place. Let’s dive in if the record was about Maximum Number of Passengers Carried at a Time by a Passenger Aircraft?

Do you know the maximum number of passengers carried at one time by a passenger plane?

This record belongs to the Israeli airline company El Al. For the details of the record, we need to go back to 1991.

At that time, a civil war environment was prevailing in Ethiopia. Concerned for the safety of many Jews living in Ethiopia, the state of Israel prepared a plan together with the United States to evacuate these people in a very short time. Within the framework of the plan, the operation called “Solomon Operation” was carried out on 24-25 May 1991. In a short period of 36 hours, a total of 35 sorties were made and 14,325 Ethiopian Jews were transported to Israel. During the evacuation, the Israeli Air Force’s Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Boeing 707 aircraft were used, as well as Boeing 757, Boeing 767 and Boeing 747 passenger aircraft were in the El Al fleet.

Operation Solomon

It was a military operation in 1991 to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel. In 1991, the country was plunged into instability when the seat of Ethiopian president Mengistu Haile Mariam was swayed by Eritrean and Tigray rebels. The situation of the Falashas in Ethiopia as a result of instability alarmed some Jewish organizations and the state of Israel. Since mass migrations were not allowed under the Mengistu regime, the impotence in the country became a beacon of hope for the Falashas who wanted to emigrate. Taking advantage of the declining power of the Ethiopian government, Israel secretly carried out Operation Solomon. With this operation, Israel received the largest exodus in its history.

B747 – More Than 1,000 Passengers

In one of these flights, more than 1,000 passengers were taken to a Boeing 747 aircraft at the same time. According to different sources, 1,078, 1,088 or 1,122 passengers were carried. “The maximum/greatest number of passengers ever carried by a commercial airliner is 1,088 or thereabouts (there are conflicting reports of the final count), by an El Al Boeing 747 during Operation Solomon, which involved the evacuation of Ethiopian Jews from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and started on 24 May 1991” writes the Guinness World Records.

Maximum Number of Passengers Solomon Operation
Operation Solomon

Two women gave birth during the flight. Originally a cargo plane, the Boeing 747-200C, registered 4X-AXF tail, was converted into a passenger plane with at least 760 seats placed just before operation. Due to the extraordinary nature of its operation, many more passengers boarded the plane than the number of seats. Thus, a record that has not been broken since then was signed.

In addition to the record set in the Boeing 747, 430 passengers were carried on a Boeing 767-200 (4X-EAB) aircraft, and 360 passengers on another Boeing 757-200 (4X-EBR) type aircraft.

Operation Solomon – Boeing 707: 400 passengers traveled on the Boeing 707 of the Israeli Air Force. Since military transport planes do not have seats, passengers sat on the ground.


Guinness World Records




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