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The Annual Airline Safety Rankings have just come out, rating 60 airlines on the number and deadliness of the hull losses (destroyed airplanes) they have suffered in the past 30 years and how they have fared more recently. SAA came 9th. In the world.
The Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre (JACDEC), which collects information about aviation accidents and safety, has published its annual Airline Safety Ranking.
60 airlines are rated, based on the number and deadliness of the hull losses (destroyed airplanes) they have suffered in the past 30 years, and how they have fared more recently.
Here are the ten with the worst safety records, including the number of hull losses since 1983, and how many fatalities they caused:
#10 SkyWest Airlines: 3 hull losses; 22 dead
#9 South African Airways: 1 hull loss; 159 dead
#8 Thai Airways International: 5 hull losses; 309 dead
#7 Turkish Airlines: 6 hull losses, 188 dead
#6 Saudia: 4 hull losses; 310 dead
#5 Korean Air: 9 hull losses; 687 dead
#4 GOL Transportes Aéreos: 1 hull loss; 154 dead
#3 Air India: 3 hull losses; 329 dead
#2 TAM Airlines: 6 hull losses; 336 dead
#1 China Airlines: 8 hull losses; 755 dead
They are, of course, talking about the Helberberg, probably the most famous plane crash in South African history. That was 26 years ago. It is unfortunate that this ranking system goes back 30 years, which means FlySAA will probably remain on it for another few years. Especially since most of us know what a great airline SAA is.
Here is the history of that flight, from Wikipedia, including transcript of communication with Mauritius air traffic control:
South African Airways Flight 295 was a Boeing 747-244B Combi,named The Helderberg (registration ZS-SAS; serial number 22171) that was delivered to the airline in 1980. The aircraft took off on 27 November 1987 from Taipei Chiang Kai Shek International Airport, on a flight to Johannesburg via Mauritius. Dawie Uys served as the captain of the flight.
The Boeing 747-244B Combi is a variant of the aircraft that permits the mixing of passengers and airfreight on the main deck according to load factors on any given route and Class B cargo compartment regulations. Flight 295 had 140 passengers and six pallets of cargo on the main deck. The master waybills stated that 47,000 kilograms (100,000 lb) of baggage and cargo were loaded on the plane. A Taiwanese customs official performed a surprise inspection of some of the cargo; he did not find any cargo that could be characterized as suspicious.
Thirty-four minutes after departure, the flight contacted Hong Kong air traffic control to obtain clearance from waypoint ELATO (22°19′N 117°30′E) to ISBAN. A position report was made over ELATO at 15:03:25, followed by waypoints SUNEK at 15:53:52, ADMARK at 16:09:54 and SUKAR (12°22′N 110°54′E) at 16:34:47. The aircraft made a routine report to the South African Airways base at Jan Smuts (ZUR) at 15:55:18.
At some point during the flight, a fire developed in the cargo section on the main deck; the fire was probably not extinguished before impact. The smoke evacuation checklist calls for the aircraft to be depressurised, and for two of the cabin doors to be opened. No evidence exists that the checklist was followed, or the doors opened. A crew member might have gone into the cargo hold to try to fight the fire. A charged fire extinguisher was later recovered from the wreckage on which investigators found molten metal.
The following communication was recorded with Mauritius air traffic control [ click here for that ]
Click here to read famed forensic investigator, David Klatzow s thoughts on what really happened.