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Last updated: 9 December 2018
Status:Final
Date:Sunday 7 October 1979
Time:22:15
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC86 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
McDonnell Douglas DC-8-62
Operator:Swissair
Registration: HB-IDE
C/n / msn: 45919/312
First flight: 1967
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT3D-
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 12
Passengers:Fatalities: 14 / Occupants: 142
Total:Fatalities: 14 / Occupants: 154
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Athens-Ellinikon International Airport (ATH) (   Greece)
Crash site elevation: 21 m (69 feet) amsl
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Genève-Cointrin Airport (GVA/LSGG), Switzerland
Destination airport:Athens-Ellinikon International Airport (ATH/LGAT), Greece
Flightnumber: 316
Narrative:
A McDonnell Douglas DC-8-62 passenger plane was destroyed in a landing accident Athens-Ellinikon International Airport (ATH), Greece. All twelve crew members survived but fourteen of the 142 passengers were killed.
Swissair flight SR316 originated at Genève-Cointrin Airport (GVA), Switzerland and was bound for Bombay, India Beijing, China. Athens was the first intermediate stop.
During an ILS approach to runway 33R at Athens Airport, the crew got visual contact with the airport and was cleared to land on runway 15L. The approach was made at a speed of 146 knots and the aircraft touched down about 740 m beyond the displaced threshold and about 2240 m before the runway end.
The DC-8 decelerated but overran the end of the runway. The left wing and tail separated before the aircraft came to rest on a public road some 80 m beyond the end of the runway and 4 m below airport elevation. A fire broke out on the right side and spread quickly. All 14 victims died due to smoke or fire and were all seated at rows 21-26.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "(1) The crew touched down the aircraft too late, at a speed higher than normal after a non-stabilized final approach. (2) The crew did not fully apply the braking systems (wheel brakes and reverse thrust) particularly the wheel brakes after a touchdown under known adverse conditions, so that it was not possible to stop the aircraft at least before the end of the overrun area."
Note: the member of the Operations team of the Accident Investigation Committee had a different opinion from the rest of the Committee regarding the cause of the accident. That is:
"After a non-stabilized approach a too-late touchdown at an increased speed was not realized by the crew. Contributing was the fact that (1) the company's recommended technique concerning 'landing when braking action is less then good' was not followed by the crew. (2) Wheel brake application was not fully utilized by the crew at the proper stage of rolling after touchdown. (3) Reverse thrust application was not fully utilized by the crew at the proper stage of rolling after touchdown. "

Classification:
Runway excursion

Photos

photo of McDonnell Douglas DC-8-62 HB-IDE
photo of McDonnell Douglas DC-8-62 HB-IDE
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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 Genève-Cointrin Airport to Athens-Ellinikon International Airport as the crow flies is 1707 km (1067 miles).
Accident location: Exact; deduced from official accident report.

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DC-8

  • 556 built
  • 50th loss
  • 34th fatal accident
  • 21st worst accident (at the time)
  • 27th worst accident (currently)
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 Greece
  • 14th worst accident (at the time)
  • 18th worst accident (currently)
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