Accident description
Last updated: 16 April 2014
Status:Final
Date:Wednesday 15 February 1961
Time:09:05 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic B703 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 707-329
Operator:Sabena
Registration: OO-SJB
C/n / msn: 17624/92
First flight: 1959
Total airframe hrs:3038
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT4A
Crew:Fatalities: 11 / Occupants: 11
Passengers:Fatalities: 61 / Occupants: 61
Total:Fatalities: 72 / Occupants: 72
Ground casualties:Fatalities: 1
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:3 km (1.9 mls) NE of Brussel-Zaventem Airport (BRU) (   Belgium) show on map
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:New York-Idlewild International Airport, NY (IDL/KIDL), United States of America
Destination airport:Brussel-Zaventem Airport (BRU/EBBR), Belgium
Flightnumber: 548
Narrative:
Sabena flight SN548 was a transatlantic service from New York to Brussels. The Boeing 707 was on a long approach to runway 20 when, near the runway threshold and at a height of 900 feet, power was increased and the gear retracted. The plane made three 360 degrees turns to the left and climbed to 1500 feet. During these turns the bank angle increased more and more until the aircraft was in a near vertical bank. The wings then leveled, followed by an abrupt pitch up. The 707 lost speed, started to spiral rapidly towards the ground nose down, crashed and caught fire.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "Having carried out all possible reasonable investigations, the Commission concluded that the cause of the accident had to be looked for in the material failure of the flying controls.
However, while it was possible to advance certain hypotheses regarding the possible causes, they could not be considered entirely satisfactory. Only the material failure of two systems could lead to a complete explanation, but left the way open to an arbitrary choice because there was not sufficient evidence to corroborate it."
The FAA commented that the most plausible hypothesis was a malfunction of the stabilizer adjusting mechanism permitting the stabilizer to run to the 10.5deg nose-up position.

Events:

Sources:
» ICAO Circular 69-AN/61 (43-58)


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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from New York-Idlewild International Airport, NY to Brussel-Zaventem Airport as the crow flies is 5845 km (3653 miles).

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Boeing 707

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