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.
|Date:||Wednesday 15 February 1961|
|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)
|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|
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.
» ICAO Circular 69-AN/61 (43-58)
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).