Fire Consumes Saudia Flight 163 on Taxiway

Saudia Flight 163 was a scheduled passenger flight of Saudia that caught fire at Riyadh's International Airport (now the Riyadh Air Base) after a flight from Karachi, Pakistan.

The fire, on August 19, 1980, killed all 287 passengers and 14 crew on board the Lockheed L-1011-200 TriStar, registered HZ-AHK, which had been due to fly on to the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah.

At the time the incident was the second deadliest single aircraft disaster in history, after Turkish Airlines Flight 981. It was also the highest death toll of any aviation accident in Saudi Arabia and the highest death toll of any accident involving a Lockheed L-1011 anywhere in the world.

Saudi Arabian Airlines flight 163 departed Riyadh's international airport shortly before 10:00pm the night of August 19, 1980. 287 passengers and 14 crew members were aboard the L1011 bound for Jiddah. About seven minutes into the flight, while climbing through 15,000ft, the crew was alerted by aural and visual indicators that there was smoke in the aft cargo compartment.

The crew then spent the next four minutes trying to confirm the warnings and finding the smoke alert procedure in the aircraft's manual. At this point, the Captain decided to return to the airport. The number 2 engine thrust lever became stuck and the crew then shut it down. Despite this, the aircaft landed safely back at Riyadh. Instead of stopping the aircraft, the crew continued to roll out and did not stop until on a taxiway, some 2 minutes and 40 seconds after touchdown.