Sterling Airways Flight 296
A Sterling Airways Caravelle 10B3 similar to the accident aircraft
|Date||14 March 1972|
|Site||Near Kalba, United Arab Emirates|
|Aircraft type||Sud Aviation SE-210 Caravelle 10B3|
|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. It remains the deadliest air disaster in the history of the United Arab Emirates.
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.
Nationalities of the passengers and crew
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.
- "Photo of Caravelle OY-STL".
- "Aviation Safety Network".
- "112 persons feared killed in crash of Danish plane".
- "Plane crash death count may reach 112".
- (Danish) Final accident report (Archive) - Government of Denmark, Lufthfartsdirektoratet.
- The worst air disaster in the history of the United Arab Emirates (Danish).