Sterling Airways Flight 296

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Sterling Airways Flight 296
Sud SE-210 Caravelle 10B3 Super B, Sterling Airways AN0230108.jpg
A Sterling Airways Caravelle 10B3 similar to the accident aircraft
Occurrence summary
Date 14 March 1972
Summary Pilot error
Site Near Kalba, United Arab Emirates
Passengers 106
Crew 6
Fatalities 112
Survivors 0
Aircraft type Sud Aviation SE-210 Caravelle 10B3
Operator Sterling Airways
Registration OY-STL
Flight origin Colombo International Airport, Colombo, Ceylon
1st stopover Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Bombay, India
2nd stopover Dubai Airport, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
3rd stopover Esenboğa International Airport, Ankara, Turkey
Destination Copenhagen Airport, Copenhagen, Denmark

On 14 March 1972, Sterling Airways Flight 296 crashed into a mountain ridge on approach to Dubai near Kalba, United Arab Emirates. Flight 296 was a charter flight from Colombo to Copenhagen with stops in Bombay, Dubai, and Ankara. All 112 passengers and crew on board died in the crash which was attributed to pilot error. The flight was operated by a Sud Aviation Caravelle, registration OY-STL.[1] It remains the deadliest air disaster in the history of the United Arab Emirates.[2]


Sterling Airways Flight 296 was chartered by the tour company Tjaereborg Rejser to take 106 Europeans home from vacations in Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka). The flight from Colombo to Copenhagen was scheduled to make refuelling stops in Bombay, Dubai, and Ankara. A change of crew was also scheduled during the stop in Ankara.

The 106 passengers were from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and West Germany. The Danish crew of 6 consisted of Captain Ole Jorgensen, 35, First Officer Jorgen Pedersen, 30, Flight Attendant Lone Bernth, 22, Flight Attendant Karin Troelstrup, 23, Flight Attendant Johanne Wohlk, 24, and Mechanic Poul Johansen, 28.

Flight 296 departed from Colombo on time at 17:20 local time for Bombay. At 19:45, it landed in Bombay. The passengers were not allowed to de-plane during the stop in Bombay. After refuelling Flight 296 departed Bombay for the next stop in Dubai at 21:20.

Shortly before 22:00 local time, Flight 296 began the approach into Dubai. The weather in Dubai was cloudy with scattered thunderstorms. Dubai's ILS system was down due to runway construction. The air traffic controller instructed the crew to use the VOR for runway 30. At 22:04, the crew radioed that the VOR was not properly working. Shortly afterwards the left wing hit a mountain ridge. In the impact the left wing broke off. The plane flew another 265 meters before impacting below the top of the next ridge. The wreckage slid down the slope and ended up in five different valleys. There were no survivors among the 106 passengers and 6 crew members.[3]

Nationalities of the passengers and crew[edit]

Nationality Passengers Crew Total
Denmark Danish 68 6 74
Sweden Swedish 20 - 20
Norway Norwegian 12 - 12
Finland Finnish 4 - 4
West Germany West German 2 - 2
Total 106 6 112



The investigation found that the pilots descended below the minimum prescribed altitude. This was due to incorrect information on the outdated flight plan and/or due to a misreading of the weather radar which led the pilots to believe they were closer to Dubai than they actually were.[3]


  1. ^ "Photo of Caravelle OY-STL". 
  2. ^ "Aviation Safety Network". 
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ "112 persons feared killed in crash of Danish plane". 
  5. ^ "Plane crash death count may reach 112". 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 25°04′27″N 56°21′19″E / 25.07417°N 56.35528°E / 25.07417; 56.35528