Thursday 19 August 2021

Remembering Saudia Flight 163


SAUDI MD 11 HZ-HM7 (CN 48532)

Saudia Flight 163 was a scheduled Saudia passenger flight that caught fire after takeoff from Riyadh International Airport (RUH/OERY), Saudi Arabia (now known as the Riyadh Air Base) en route to Jeddah International Airport (JED/OEJD) Saudi Arabia on the 19th August 1980. All 287 passengers and 14 crew on board the Lockheed L-1011-200 TriStar died from smoke inhalation after the aircraft made a successful emergency landing at Riyadh. Flight SV163 landed at Riyadh at 16:06 GMT for a scheduled intermediate stop after a flight from Karachi. At 18:08 the aircraft took off for the final leg to Jeddah. Six minutes and 54 seconds after takeoff, while climbing to FL350, visual and aural warnings indicated smoke in the aft cargo compartment C-3. Climbing through FL220 (at 18:20), a return to Riyadh was initiated. About two minutes later smoke was noted in the aft of the cabin, and passengers were panicking. At 18:25:26 the no. 2 engine throttle was stuck. The fire had by then entered the cabin of the TriStar. Because passengers where fighting in the aisles, aft of doors L2 and R2, the captain asked everybody to remain seated (18:27:40). On final approach engine no. 2 was shut down, and the captain told the cabin crew not to evacuate. Flight SV163 landed back at Riyadh runway 01 at 18:36:24 The crew continued to a taxiway and told the tower that they were going to shut the engines down and evacuate. The engines were shut down at 18:42:18. Because no evacuation had been initiated by then, crash, fire and rescue personnel tried to open the doors. At about 19:05 they succeeded in opening door 2R. About three minutes later, the interior was seen to be engulfed in flames. None of the occupants survived the fire.

Probable Cause:
"The initiation of a fire in the C-3 cargo compartment. The source of the ignition of the fire is undetermined. Factors contributing to the fatal results of this accident were 1) the failure of the captain to prepare the cabin crew for immediate evacuation upon landing and his failure in not making a maximum stop landing on the runway, with immediate evacuation, 2) the failure of the captain to properly utilize his flight crew throughout the emergency 3) the failure of C/F/R headquarters management personnel to ensure that its personnel had adequate equipment and training to function as required during an emergency."

The accident is the deadliest involving a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, as well as the deadliest aviation disaster to occur in Saudi Arabia to date.

The aircraft involved was a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar (Registered in Saudi Arabia as HZ-AHK). It made its first flight on the 13th July 1979, and was delivered to Saudia on the 21st August 1979.

Aircraft Information
Airline: Saudi Arabian Airlines
Code: SV/SVA
Aircraft: Lockheed L-1011 TriStar 200
Registration: HZ-AHK
Serial Number: 1169
Engines: 3 x RB211-524B402
First Flew: 13/07/1979
Age: 11 Months 

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