Saudi Arabian - Lockheed - L1011 (HZ-AHK) flight SV163

Saudi Arabian – Lockheed – L1011 (HZ-AHK) flight SV163

Saudi Arabian flight SV163 : it was around 1808 GMT on August 19, 1980, when Saudi Arabian Airlines, Flight 163, a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, departed Riyadh, Saudi Arabia enroute to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Flight 163 returned to Riyadh after an uncontrolled fire developed in the C-3 cargo compartment of the aircraft.

“Give me your attention please, be seated ladies and gentlemen, we are about to land there’s no reason to panic”

The flight landed at about 1836 and then taxied clear of the runway and came to a stop on an adjacent taxiway.

Saudi Arabian - Lockheed - L1011 (HZ-AHK) flight SV163
wreckage of Saudi Arabian L1011 (HZ-AHK) flight SV163

While parked on the taxiway, the aircraft was destroyed by the fire and the three hundred and one persons on board the flight were killed.

Saudi Arabian flight SV163 was survivable. The first door was opened about 23 minutes after all engines had been shutdown.

The Presidency of Civil Aviation determines that the probable cause of this accident was the initiation of fire in the C-3 Cargo compartment.

The source of ignition of the fire is undetermined.

Factors contributing to the final fatal results of this accident were

  • 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,
  • the failure of the Captain to properly utilize his flight crew throughout the emergency
  • the failure of C/F/R headquarters management personnel to insure that its personnel had adequate equipment and training to function as required during an emergency.


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accident date: 19/08/1980
model: L1011
registration: HZ-AHK
msn: 1169
location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
flight number: SV163

Category: Aviation Accident



  1. I still dread this day as my mother died in this crash I was only 6 at the time. I have tried to read and research every article available on this. Still fail to figure when the dam pilot landed the plane safely why didn’t they get off the plane I don’t blame the pilot he did a good job getting the burning plane down the question is why weren’t they given the ok from the air tower to avacuate the plane what was the reason ??? Why weren’t the stand by emergency aid not available???? Arabs ???

    1. First of all I’m sorry about your mother but I think you are racist to but the blame on Arabs
      I study the case and the main reason was the flight engineer which he was American that he failed to depressuriz the cabin so they couldn’t open the doors
      So all the blame you should put it on the crew which all of them were western
      If you have any clue about aviation you will know that the emergency will be sent if the commander of the air craft will ask for it because the don’t know what’s happening inside the plane
      So you have to plame your people for being dumb not the Arabs

      1. Moronic comment. Both the pilot and the copilot were Saudis. You are intentionally misrepresenting the facts. The Saudi pilot did NOT stop the airplane for two minutes after touch down, and then would NOT shut down the engines for three additional minutes. Over those five minutes all passengers died of smoke inhalation. The blame is 100% with the Saudi pilot.

    2. sorry for your loss, my father also died in same flight I was born after 6 months of his death…. I never got any satisfactory answers until now…may you and I both find peace ameen

  2. The Captain did not realize the urgency of the rapidly building cargo fire. Like any other air carrier aircraft the outflow valves should open automatically on touchdown with the landing gear squat switch. As has been mentioned it is possible that the outflow vales were melted closed by the fire. The long extended time to shut down the engines and evacuate the aircraft clearly rests on the shoulders of the Saudia Captain, who was probably in a state of shock and denial of the exigency of the situation. The Captain can evacuate the aircraft anytime he deems appropriate without any approval or consent by the tower.

    1. At that time, Saudia did not have a published emergency procedure dictating cockpit crew actions to initiate an evacuation. Evacuation procedures were never practiced during simulator training.

  3. I lived in Saudi for nine years: Oct 76-Sep 85 Jeddah and Riyadh. On the night of Aug 19, we were in Riyadh when our 16 yr old son yelled “Dad, an L1011 is landing and I can see flames through the windows. The next day, and days following, The Saudi Gazette News and rumors from the control tower indicated that the pilot of Saudi Flight SV163 had been told that a Saudi Prince was landing right behind him, that he needed to go to the end of runway and park on the taxi way until the prince was off the runway and the fire trucks could go to SV163. I met Brad Curtis (SV163 Flight Engineer), in Jeddah in 76 where he was then the pilot of U.S. Geological Survey DC-2, but did not know him. I have been to his grave in Libby, MT: Large headstone with a Lockheed L1011 TRI STAR from Saudi Airlines. I made a lot of Saudia flights past the remains of SV163ST, until the new Riyadh airport was built. I knew several U.S. Co-Pilots with many more hours than their Saudia plane captains and if anything went wrong the co-pilot was the blame.

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