SAS Flight 751 Ditches in a Field

Dec. 27, 1991 – Scandinavian Flight 751 crashes shortly after takeoff from Stockholm-Arlanda Airport in Sweden. The McDonnell Douglas MD-81 experienced double-engine failure just over a minute into the flight at an altitude of about 3,000ft.

SAS Flight 751, December 27, 1991

Without power, the crew was forced to ditch the aircraft in a field, where the aircraft broke up into three pieces. Miraculously, everyone on board the aircraft survived, although 25 were injured.

The scheduled flight from Stockholm for Copenhagen was to be completed in the morning and the temperature had dropped to zero degrees Celsius overnight. During this time, clear ice had formed on the upper portion of the wings, but this ice was not detected by the ground crew as they only verified the leading edge. The aircraft was fuelled and was then deiced with Type I fluid. After deicing, the crew did not perform a post-deicing check to ascertain that there was any clear ice on the upper side of the wings, since none had previously been found. During takeoff, clear ice from the upper sections dislodged due to flexing of the wings, and the ice was ingested by the engines, causing major damage.

The causes of the accident, as per the Flight Safety Foundation, were:

“The accident was caused by SAS’ instructions and routines being inadequate to ensure that clear ice was removed from the wings of the aircraft prior to takeoff. Hence the aircraft took off with clear ice on the wings. In connection with lift-off, the clear ice loosened and was ingested by the engines. The ice caused damage to the engine fan stages, which led to engine surges. The surges destroyed the engines. “

Please use this event to demonstrate the absolute importance of performing proper pre- and post-deicing inspections.

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