PIA Boeing 707 Crash in Taif - Saudi Arabia

Discuss issues and news related to PIA, Pakistani airlines and Pakistan's civil & military aviation.


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ConnieMan
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Post by ConnieMan »

H Khan wrote:Well, you are not familiar with military technology so I will not comment on your conjecture of 'automatic' SAM system.

In our part of the world there is always the hearsay and conspiracy theories but not a single iota given to the science of history.
Well, could you explain us how it works then, this may inhance in resolving what did really happened back then.

You are right about hearsay and conspiracy theories in the aviation industry, that is why i posted this thread so it could solve and we all on here get the reality of this accident as this was no ordinary type of accident as why so many people over the years would say same thing about it ie: "Blown of the sky" statements.

As for C130 story, i am not going to comment on it until i talk to some others who would know about it. Yes you are right C130 is not a small plane to be hidden for long time yet things do happen differently then regular procedures and rules at times.
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ConnieMan
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Post by ConnieMan »

Here is another thing i was thinking, since some people are saying and its on web that aircraft was on fire and that is why it crashed and then there is report form news paper back then stating "Pilot called MAY DAY and reported smoke and fire in the cabin", plus someone also stated that "Fire started on the back of the plane".

Here is are my questions: If fire did started in the back of the plane then howcome this aircraft crashed with in few minutes of takeoff from Jeddah!, does anyone know how intense fire was and how fast did it burned the structure and pilot lost control of the elevators?, and why could he not land at Taif airport right away and started to turn back towards Jeddah!.

-Did Taif's ATC not allowed him to land there with MAY DAY call or was there another of royal planes on the airport or in for landing as it happened few months after this accident in Riyadh with Saudia's L1011!!...

-Did this aircraft really crashed due to fire in the back cabin or this accident's story is being confused with Saudia's L1011s few months later as it did started to burn when one of the illiterate passenger tried to cook his food on his kerosene stove that he was carrying onboard in the back galley of that L1011!!
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Post by nopy99 »

This is an interesting thread but im affraid that it will not acheive what connieman is looking for and will continue to produce theories. To arrive at a probable cause conclusion the Saudi and Pak investigation reports need to be made public and this will NEVER happen.

also i dont think that national geographic will make an air crash investigation about this incident. the reason is that they base the episode on facts such as FDR,CVR,official reports, eye witness reports etc. none of these will ever be released to the public arena by Saudi's or Pakistan. unfortunately there is not enough public data for an episode to be made.

Im sure there are certain individuals who are aware of the content of the reports however its highly unlikely that they will speak in public.

In terms of the actual crash, could it have been air defence SAM's - Yes. could it have been a kerosene cooker in the hold - Yes. what really happened? we can only speculate.

If Multan report is not being published, what chance is their of declassifying this decades old report where there is no media pressure or public benefit in doing so.

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ConnieMan
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Post by ConnieMan »

Nopy99,

You are right as it won't be straight forward to find the truth behind this accident, may have vee bit of luck with fellows in Pakistan vs Saudi!, i am trying to get intouch with someone in S.A who maybe able to help with this cold case!.

What we really need are the family members, friends, relatives of all those passengers who died on that flight to come out and tell us what they know about it, i mean it's almost 30 years old accident in next some months!.

Actual accident reports are one thing but personal connections is another way of getting it out. If anyone of these people don't want to post publicly then they could email me at: Smr_747@yahoo.com and i will make sure there privacy will be secured.

I have asked our H Khan to post his views on SAM's on here so lets hope he will do it. I also know this aircraft lost it's altitude once again today and that is why it was in range of these SAM's as they were fired on it!, it could be very well that all the aircrafts even today fly same route but at prescribed height so that is why none saw same fate again!.

Is there anyone who may have copy of PIA's timetable from February 79 and could tell us what time od day or night this flight actually originated from Jeddah?, today i head that it was during day time vs on here it states it's was originating during night time!...
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ConnieMan
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Post by ConnieMan »

I am just thinking, if any of the families of the this crash victims ever thought to make a memorial in Taif with names of all who died that day/night or did Pakistan government then asked Saudis to make something of that nature??

I am just wondering how was the state of the bodies of that crash, were they recognizable easily or were they chard so badly due to fire or explosion on board that DNA was used to identify them??
Last edited by ConnieMan on Tue Feb 10, 2009 5:25 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by kashan »

Abbas Ali wrote:According to Chronicle-Telegram November 26, 1979 news report, flight PK-740 originated in Kano, Nigeria. Was Kano-Jeddah sector operated by AP-AWZ or by Saudi Arabian Airlines aircraft through code share agreement with PIA?
Abbas I recall PIA ads in local evening papers back in 80s which carried route map showing Kano being linked with a dotted line from Jeddah which would mean that Saudi Airlines were the operating carrier, but prior to that it could be PIA operating on their behalf like code share.

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Abbas Ali
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Post by Abbas Ali »

I found following info about AP-AWZ accident on www.super70s.com.
Pakistan International Airlines 740

By Patrick Mondout

On November 26, 1979, a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Boeing B707-340C crashed while attempting to return to Jeddah Airport, Saudi Arabia after an on-board fire. All 11 crewmembers and 145 passengers were killed.

At a little after 1 a.m. and 21 minutes after take-off on a flight to Karachi, the flight crew reported smoke in the cockpit in the cabin area. They requested and received air traffic control (ATC) clearance to return to the airport. While on the emergency descent the aircraft struck the ground and exploded.

The in-flight fire started in the back of the cabin and rapidly spread throughout the aircraft. The origin of the fire was not determined. The crew did not follow emergency and smoke evacuation procedures and smoke incapacitated the flight crew.

Source: World Book Encyclopedia, 1980 Yearbook.
And following is ‘Flight International’ magazine's December 15, 1979 report, that’s nearly three weeks after AP-AWZ accident that happened on November 26, 1979. So, apparently it does not include complete findings of crash investigators.
Cause of PIA crash unknown

NO reason has yet been advanced to account for smoke in the cabin of Pakistan International Boeing 707 AP-AWZ which crashed on November 26 killing all 145 passengers and 11 crew. The aircraft was climbing out at night from Jeddah having loaded more than 100 pilgrims for the flight to Karachi. At about 25,000ft the captain made a radio call, reporting smoke in the cabin and requesting emergency descent. The final radio call confirmed that the smoke was in the cabin and that the crew were putting on smoke masks.

The aircraft hit the ground in open desert some 75 miles from Jeddah, apparently fairly steeply and at high speed. It was totally destroyed and the wreckage was confined to a relatively small area. Power was on at impact. The flight-data and cockpit voice recorders have been recovered and have been sent to Washington. Fires on board pilgrim flights are not uncommon and airlines regard "brewing-up" by passengers as a routine hazard on such flights. The possibility of an incendiary device is not ruled out.

Source: Flight International – December 15, 1979
According to aviation-safety.net, AP-AWZ crashed in a level rocky area at an elevation of 3000ft and burst into flames. Similarly, according to ‘Flight International’ report, apparently the Boeing 707 struck the ground at high speed and wreckage was not scattered over wide area.

In-flight cabin fire is mentioned in all reports related to AP-AWZ accident. So, one thing very clear is that in-flight cabin fire was the main cause of AP-AWZ tragedy. Report on aviation-safety.net says an air hostess informed cockpit crew about fire near the aft cabin passenger door. It’s quite possible that she also told pilots the cause of fire and probably conversation got recorded on CVR also?

Looks like in those days passengers were allowed to carry portable kerosene/LPG stoves in cabin baggage? 'Flight International' magazine report mentions "brewing-up" by passengers as routine safety threat on Hajj flights in those years. So does that mean possibility of a pilgrim unaware of aviation safety igniting a kerosene stove to prepare something like for example a cup of tea near the aft cabin passenger door that spread fire cannot be ruled out? But it’s difficult to imagine how such activity could go unnoticed by cabin crew and other passengers? I guess possibility of burning cigarette/matchstick dropped by someone on cabin floor igniting kerosene leaking from stove in cabin baggage also cannot be ruled out.

What happened after cabin fire? Following three possibilities come to my mind:

1) Fire spread through cabin rapidly and probably on its way to the cockpit area it ignited a number of more kerosene stoves carried on-board by pilgrims. The fire entered cockpit and incapacitated/disabled cockpit crew. Probably after that the aircraft went into steep dive and due to amount of force on its structure already weakened by intense fire caused aircraft to disintegrate in the air or probably the amount of fire heat in cabin or cargo hold caused fuel tanks to explode that disintegrated the aircraft. Because of disintegration of the aircraft in the air, the wreckage was spread over wide area.

2) The burning Boeing 707 with incapacitated cockpit crew entered restricted air space and got shot down by Saudi air defence system? But since I don’t know details about working of air defence systems so I’m not sure about this possibility/theory. There's no credible source or eyewitness account to prove or support missile hit theory in AP-AWZ accident.

3) With crew incapacitated due to smoke/fire in cockpit, the burning Boeing 707 remains intact in the air, goes into a steep dive, hits the ground with great amount of force and bursts into flames. The wreckage is not spread over a large area. Reports on the web related to AP-AWZ accident also claim that Boeing 707 exploded after hitting the ground.

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captain_salman
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Post by captain_salman »

There is no compensation for the loss of life caused to our people who lost their loved ones.....and there will never be any compensation ever :(

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ConnieMan
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Post by ConnieMan »

I haven't been able to establish contact with couple people in SA who would provide valuable information about this incident, i will keep trying to get in contact with them.

Abbas it's hard to believe that fire did started in the cabin as it's said all along about this doomed flight, now for the first time it's know that aircraft was at 25,000 ft and climbing when this all started!.

Few things that aren't making sense about this all.

1) Aircraft was not even flying level!, why would any passenger would want to use his own kerosene stove when they JUST took off minutes ago and were not even at there cursing altitude. This is hard to believe and then if anyone did tried to do this, howcome cabin crew never stopped that passenger from doing it.

2) Fire takes time to spread through out the cabin when pressurized and B703 were big airplanes so how could it got to the cockpit with in few minutes if it indeed started at very back of the aircraft!.

3)Could there be a short circuit of some type that caused the spark in electrical system at the back as that was the reason why aircraft started losing it's altitude in first place, but then again it wouldn't right away melt aircraft cables controlling the elevators and rudder unless there was abrupt explosion that failed flight control systems and aircraft went into nose dive hitting the ground at super speeds!

4) It could be that, the SAM did hit the aircraft and took out it's wing while fire was the initial reason for it to lose it's altitude to start onborad problems, then while pilot started to turn back towards Jeddah but had lost some controls of the aircraft and flew over the restricted area hence why i said earlier that SAM took it out?.

As i said before, if we could only find out whats in those transcripts and CVR recordings it will be somewhat easier to piece it together the real cause, until then it's hard to say what really happened to it just by going by whats in magazines and websites about it as it wouldn't help a lot!.

I will keep SAM activity connected with this accident unless there is enough evidence to prove it wrong, i have found nothing as yet not to believe it was SAM that brought it down..
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Post by R.F. »

As per the preliminary reports and the recordings of the CVR fire was started in the cabin not by some pax lighting up the kerosene stove but rather by the stove explosion. Once the interior catches fire it spreads rapidly and its never the fire unless its and inferno but rather the smoke inhalation that kills.

True the fire triangle requires air (oxygen) for sustenance and spread however once spread on board very hard to contain. Rest are all speculations as there existed no evidence of a ground attack.

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Post by ConnieMan »

R.F. wrote: True the fire triangle requires air (oxygen) for sustenance and spread however once spread on board very hard to contain. Rest are all speculations as there existed no evidence of a ground attack.
That's what i mean, fire need oxygen to fuel itself to be able to spread around, but in this case it's more seems as on board explosion of some type that caused the rapid rate of aircraft's decent!.

Now as for SAM/ground attack activity, this has been associated with this crash from the time it happened, people who were allowed to visit crash site from Saudi Airlines have said this from day one and this is why it always bothered me to find out what really happened then. In magazines, web world it states it was onboard fire that caused this crash but what about the people who were involved with investigation and saw the wreckage themselves, why would they need to lie or make up stories about it. Then again Saudi Government had kept quite all along about it, so these two scenarios do let me to believe that SAM activity did happened and that has major roll to play in this accident.

Otherthing that comes to my mind is, sure pilot said he has fire onboard and called "MAYDAY" to be returned to Jeddah when Taif airport was right under him but was not allowed to land there, in between this conversation he must have lost control of the aircraft and went over restricted area and was shot down also, he most likely didn't had a clue if missile was fired at his plane as poor guy was struggling hard to keep the airplane flying and trying to bring it back to Jeddah!

Yes fire smoke will incapacitate anyone and that is why oxygen masks are there for pilots to wear in there best efforts to get the airplane to land at the nearest airport/ground as fast as possible.

Now this is another thing is if that cockpit crew had oxygen masks on or not???
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Post by Abbas Ali »

R.F. wrote:As per the preliminary reports and the recordings of the CVR fire was started in the cabin not by some pax lighting up the kerosene stove but rather by the stove explosion. Once the interior catches fire it spreads rapidly and its never the fire unless its and inferno but rather the smoke inhalation that kills.

True the fire triangle requires air (oxygen) for sustenance and spread however once spread on board very hard to contain. Rest are all speculations as there existed no evidence of a ground attack.
Thank you R.F. :thumbs_up:
ConnieMan wrote:Yes fire smoke will incapacitate anyone and that is why oxygen masks are there for pilots to wear in there best efforts to get the airplane to land at the nearest airport/ground as fast as possible.

Now this is another thing is if that cockpit crew had oxygen masks on or not???
Oxygen mask provides protection against smoke not against actual fire. Crew wearing oxygen mask in a cockpit engulfed in flames would become helpless.

Another aircraft that faced smoke/fire in cockpit was Swissair flight SR-111. According to flight SR-111 investigation report:"The fire spread and intensified rapidly to the extent that it degraded aircraft systems and the cockpit environment, and ultimately led to the loss of control of the aircraft."

Complete details related to flight SR-111 can be read on following link:

Link: Swissair Flight 111 - Wikipedia
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ConnieMan
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Post by ConnieMan »

Abbas Ali wrote: Oxygen mask provides protection against smoke not against actual fire. Crew wearing oxygen mask in a cockpit engulfed in flames would become helpless.

Another aircraft that faced smoke/fire in cockpit was Swissair flight SR-111. According to flight SR-111 investigation report:"The fire spread and intensified rapidly to the extent that it degraded aircraft systems and the cockpit environment, and ultimately led to the loss of control of the aircraft."

Complete details related to flight SR-111 can be read on following link:

Link: Swissair Flight 111 - Wikipedia
OK hold on a second here Abbas, with all due respect why are you complicating things on here, Peggy's Cove accident of Swissair SR-111 had fire in the cockpit itself not in the back of the aircraft!!!. Swiss Air's accident was under different scenario altogether and can not be matched up with PIA's PK-740's accident that we are discussing here...
In accordance with the checklist In case of smoke of unknown origin, the crew shut-off the power supply in the cabin, which caused the recirculating fans to shut off. This caused a vacuum which induced the fire to spread back into the cockpit. At 22:24 AT, Loew declared an emergency to ATC. Shortly after emergency declaration, the captain left his seat to fight the fire, which was now spreading to the rear of the cockpit. The captain did not return to his seat, and whether he was killed from the fire or asphyxiated by the smoke is not known. The first officer continued trying to fly the now-crippled airplane, and data later indicated that he shut down engine two approximately one minute before impact, implying he was still alive and at the controls until the aircraft struck the ocean at 22:31 AT. The aircraft disintegrated on impact, killing all aboard instantly. [9] The crash location was approximately [show location on an interactive map] 44°24′33″N 63°58′25″W / 44.40917°N 63.97361°W / 44.40917; -63.97361Coordinates: [show location on an interactive map] 44°24′33″N 63°58′25″W / 44.40917°N 63.97361°W / 44.40917; -63.97361, with 300 metres' uncertainty.
Yes if PK-740's fire started in the cockpit then by all means you can compare the two accidents and yes then it would be real inferno in the cockpit and no way any pilot could do much about it at that point!...
Sorry but this is baseless match/comparison you present here. No comparison atall!!
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Post by Abbas Ali »

ConnieMan wrote:OK hold on a second here Abbas, with all due respect why are you complicating things on here, Peggy's Cove accident of Swissair SR-111 had fire in the cockpit itself not in the back of the aircraft!!!. Swiss Air's accident was under different scenario altogether and can not be matched up with PIA's PK-740's accident that we are discussing here...
I do know fire began in cockpit in SR-111 accident and have seen episode about it in air crash investigation series on National Geographic channel.

Take a look at PK-740 crash reports again where it's stated that fire started in rear section of the aircraft but it was intense and expanded rapidly. PK-740 crew reported smoke in cockpit which means fire was coming closer to flight deck area and at some point it's quite possible that fire entered PK-740 cockpit.

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ConnieMan
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Post by ConnieMan »

Abbas Ali wrote:
And following is ‘Flight International’ magazine's December 15, 1979 report, that’s nearly three weeks after AP-AWZ accident that happened on November 26, 1979. So, apparently it does not include complete findings of crash investigators.
Cause of PIA crash unknown

NO reason has yet been advanced to account for smoke in the cabin of Pakistan International Boeing 707 AP-AWZ which crashed on November 26 killing all 145 passengers and 11 crew. The aircraft was climbing out at night from Jeddah having loaded more than 100 pilgrims for the flight to Karachi. At about 25,000ft the captain made a radio call, reporting smoke in the cabin and requesting emergency descent. The final radio call confirmed that the smoke was in the cabin and that the crew were putting on smoke masks.
This what i just found on Super70.com:

November 26, 1979 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 707/Pakistan (PIA) 156 On board fire at 33,000 feet; descended through 30,000 then crashed

Ok so i see we have different reports stating different altitudes where aircraft was and pilot reported either fire or smoke in the cabin!

So now can we go with these reports that are conflicting with each other,
I don't think so, there is big difference between 25,000ft and 33,000ft!!

Among other reports it states that none of passengers started the kerosene stoves they used to carry on but it was STOVE that exploded, hmmm interesting isn't it..

How do these reports were made and what sources are these based on is the question now. No one survived that crash so these didn't originated from surviving passenger or the crew, so what was in CVR recording of the last minutes of this doomed flight, does anyone know it first hand on here?, again i ask: Where are those transcripts reports from the initial crash that was reported to PIA!.

I for one can't go with these reports as they all seems to be going in circles as none have actual evidence as to what exactly happened to this flight. In other word they are pieced together from listening or reading each others reports and basing them as the facts, not ture!

I like to know exact timing when initially pilot reported smoke or fire in the cabin as there is no evidence fire entered in the cockpit, on personal note, i highly doubt if fire did indeed spread rapidly and engulfed the whole cabin with it, specially within few minutes when there was so very little oxygen onboard to help it turn the cabin into inferno!.


Lets talk hypercritically for a bit..

OK somehow there was explosion onboard, we know fire needs oxygen to fuel itself to gain strength to continue burning, so when there is no to very little oxygen onboard how can it spread so rapidly through out the whole cabin!. The only way i am thinking, could it be that "the explosion" was so bad that it went through the floor and into the fuel tanks and that is when fire kept on burning through out the cabin on rapid rate and decapitated the flight controls causing the plane to veer off it's course while descending at high rate and during this course it went over restricted area and SAM was fired on it!....

The reason why i am emphasizing about this onboard explosion in this manner as i am connecting this accident partially to Nation Air's leased DC8-61 by Nigerian Airlines to transport hajj pilgrims to and from Jeddah. This particular aircraft had worn out tires and bearings on its main landing gears, while it was rolling down the runway for takeoff it's bearings heated and were on fire, this fire grew on to the wheels and when landing gears retracted into the fuselage while on fire, it started heating the center fuel tank and then fuel tank was on fire and this fire went though the flooring into the cabin and with that big burned hole in the belly fire was fueled with fresh air and it literally engulfed the whole cabin to the point that while pilot was coming for landing over the city of Jeddah, burned sections of the aircraft were falling from it including few burned bodies.

So could PK-740 suffered from similar onboard explosion or was there combination of events that happened causing this aircraft to crash...
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