Monday, 19 August 2019

Remembering Saudia Airlines Flight 163

On the 19th of August 1980, one of the deadliest disasters in aviation history unfolded on a runway at Riyadh International Airport in Saudi Arabia’s capital. 301 people lost their lives as a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar made an emergency landing due to an in-flight fire, then mysteriously went silent before anyone left the aircraft. The horrifying disaster boggles the mind because somehow, no one on board the jet survived a flight that never even crashed. Saudia flight 163 was a scheduled Saudia passenger flight which caught fire after takeoff from Riyadh International Airport (RUH/OERY) en route to Jeddah International Airport (JED/OEJN). All 287 passengers and 14 crew on board died from smoke inhalation after the aircraft made a successful emergency landing at Riyadh. Flight SV163 departed Qu'aid-e-Azam International Airport (now Jinnah International Airport) in Karachi, Pakistan at 18:32 local time (13:32 UTC) bound for Jeddah International Airport in Jeddah, with a scheduled intermediate stop at Riyadh Airport. The flight arrived in Riyadh at 19:06 (16:06 UTC). There was a two hour layover for refueling. After refueling, the flight took off at 21:08 (18:08 UTC) bound for Jeddah. Almost seven minutes into the flight the crew received warnings of smoke from the cargo compartment. The next four minutes were spent by the crew trying to confirm the warnings, after which Flight Engineer Bradley Curtis went back into the cabin to confirm the presence of smoke. Captain Mohammed Ali Khowyter decided to return to the airport, and First Officer Sami Abdullah M. Hasanain radioed their intentions at 21:20 (18:20 UTC). At 21:25 (18:25 UTC), the thrust lever for the number two engine became jammed as the fire burned through the operating cable. Then, at 21:29 (18:29 UTC), the engine was shut down during final approach. At 21:35 (18:35 UTC), Khowyter declared an emergency and landed back at Riyadh. After touchdown at 21:36 (18:36 UTC), the airplane continued to a taxiway at the end of the runway where it exited the runway, stopping two minutes and 40 seconds after touchdown at 21:39 (18:39 UTC). The airport fire rescue equipment was stationed back on the landing section of the runway, with emergency personnel expecting an emergency stop and evacuation. This meant they had to rush after the aircraft, which had used the entire length of a 13,000 feet (4,000 m) runway to slow and then exit onto the taxiway. The airplane stopped facing in the opposite direction from landing. Once the aircraft had stopped, the crew reported that they were shutting down the engines and about to evacuate. However, on arrival at the aircraft, the rescue personnel found that the two wing-mounted engines were still running, preventing them from opening the doors. These were finally shut down at 21:42 (18:42 UTC), three minutes and 15 seconds after the aircraft came to a stop, at which point communication with the crew was lost. No external fire was visible at this time, but flames were observed through the windows at the rear of the aircraft. Twenty-three minutes after engine shutdown, at 22:05 (19:05 UTC), the R2 door was opened by ground personnel. Three minutes later, the aircraft burst into flames, and was consumed by fire.
The accident is the deadliest involving a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, as well as the deadliest aviation disaster to occur in Saudi Arabia.

The aircraft involved was a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. It made its first flight on the 13 July 1979, and was delivered to Saudia on the 21st August 1979.

Aircraft Details
Airline: Saudia Airlines:
Code: SV/SVA
Aircraft: Lockheed L-1011 TriStar
Registration: HZ-AHK
Serial Number: 1169
Engines: 3 Rolls-Royce RB211-524B2-02
First Flew: 13/07/1979
Crashed: 19/08/1980
Age:1 Yr 1 month

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