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Accident description
Last updated: 19 November 2017
Date:Saturday 28 November 1987
Time:00:07 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic B742 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 747-244B
Operator:South African Airways - SAA
Registration: ZS-SAS
C/n / msn: 22171/488
First flight: 1980-11-12 (7 years )
Total airframe hrs:26743
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7Q
Crew:Fatalities: 19 / Occupants: 19
Passengers:Fatalities: 140 / Occupants: 140
Total:Fatalities: 159 / Occupants: 159
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:250 km (156.3 mls) SE off Mauritius [Indian Ocean] (   Indian Ocean)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Taipei-Chiang Kai Shek International Airport (TPE/RCTP), Taiwan
Destination airport:Mauritius-Plaisance International Airport (MRU/FIMP), Mauritius
South African flight 295 took off from Taipei at 14:23, carrying 159 occupants and 6 pallets of cargo in the main deck cargo hold. At 23:49 the crew reported Mauritius Approach control they had a fire on board. An emergency descent to FL140 was carried out. Mauritius ATC cleared the aircraft to FL50, followed by a approach clearance. The captain's response was the last radio contact with SA295. It appeared that a fire had started in the cargo pallet at position PR. The aircraft had somehow lost control, broke up and crashed into the Ocean.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: Fire of an unknown origin had possibly: 1) incapacitated the crew; 2) caused disorientation of the crew due to thick smoke; 3) caused crew distraction; 4) weakened the aircraft structure, causing an in-flight break-up.; 5) burned through several control cables; 6) caused loss of control due to deformation of the aircraft fuselage.

Cargo fire/smoke
Fuselage failure
Loss of control

Follow-up / safety actions

BoI SA issued 8 Safety Recommendations
FAA issued 2 Airworthiness Directives
NTSB issued 3 Safety Recommendations

Show all AD's and Safety Recommendations


photo of Boeing 747-244B ZS-SAS
Underwater photo of wreckage; Photos courtesy of Oceaneering International, Inc.--website
photo of Boeing 747-244B ZS-SAS
photo of Boeing 747-244B ZS-SAS
photo of Boeing 747-244B ZS-SAS
photo of Boeing 747-244B ZS-SAS
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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 Taipei-Chiang Kai Shek International Airport to Mauritius-Plaisance International Airport as the crow flies is 8476 km (5298 miles).
Accident location: Exact; as reported in the official accident report.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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Boeing 747

  • 1514+ built
  • 18th loss
  • 11th fatal accident
  • 8th worst accident (at the time)
  • 13th worst accident (currently)
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 Indian Ocean
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  • 3rd worst accident (currently)
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