Monday, 13th of January, 1969
– United States of America
Scandinavian Airlines System Flight 933, an international scheduled passenger flight from Seattle/Tacoma International Airport, Washington (SEA/KSEA), to Los Angeles International Airport, California (LAX/KLAX), with the flight origin being Copenhagen Airport, operated with a McDonnell Douglas DC-8-62 “Sverre Viking”, registration LN-MOO, crashed in Santa Monica Bay, approximately 6 nautical miles west of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX), California, USA.
The aircraft was destroyed. Three crew members and twelve passengers were killed. The remaining six crew members and 24 passengers survived. (15 fatalities, 30 survivors)
The crash of Flight 933 is the 25th worst accident involving the DC-8.
A Scandinavian Airlines System Douglas DC-8-62, named “Sverre Viking”, crashed in Santa Monica Bay, approximately 6 nautical miles west of Los Angeles International Airport, California, USA.
The aircraft was operating as flight SK933 from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Los Angeles, California, with an en route stop and scheduled crew change at Seattle, Washington, USA.
Of the 45 persons aboard the aircraft at the time of the accident, 4 drowned, 11 are missing and presumed dead, 17 were injured, and 13 reported no injuries. The survivors included the captain, the first officer, and the flight engineer.
The aircraft was destroyed by impact. The fuselage broke into three pieces, two of which sank in approximately 350 feet of water.
The third section including the wings, the forward cabin, and the cockpit floated for a considerable time after the accident. This portion of the aircraft was towed into shallow water and sank approximately 20 hours after the accident.
The flight departed from runway 16 at Seattle at 15:46 hours. The first officer was flying the aircraft and the captain was pilot monitoring. The departure and en route part of the flight were uneventful. The aircraft entered a holding pattern at 17:32 for 90 minutes. SK933 was then cleared to descend in preparation for a back course ILS approach to runway 07R, which the approach to be flown over sea. Since SAS crews were not authorized to execute a back course ILS at Los Angeles, and the crew did not have an approach plate depicting this particular approach. The pilots decided to conduct a VOR approach to runway 07R and reviewed the procedures for this approach. The night was black and featureless, with no ground reference at the time the aircraft was cleared for the approach, at 19:19 hours. The flight crew selected the gear down the nose landing gear safe light did not illuminate, but the main landing gear safe lights were lighted. The nose landing gear unsafe light was not illuminated though. The landing gear was recycled at least one time by the captain and still showed an unsafe condition on the nose gear. The captain the asked the flight engineer to check the circuit breakers on the landing gear lights and to check visually the nose gear down locks. The systems operahor checked the circuit breakers from memory and then took off his headset, leaned forward between the pilots to check the gear lights, got the flight manual out and rechecked the circuit breakers. While he was leaning forward between the pilots to check the gear lights, he heard the captain advise the controller that they were having gear trouble and, if it was not resolved by the time they reached minimums, they would pull up and divert to Las Vegas.
After checking the lights, the flight engineer went to the rear of the cockpit, removed the cover plate from the peephole, verified the down and locked position of the nose gear, and called this information to the pilots.
The first officer then saw the drum of the altimeter nearing “0”. At this time, he attempted to pull up by applying back pressure on the control wheel and adding power. Before he was able to complete these actions the aircraft struck the water.
After the aircraft came to a stop, there was water in the cockpit about waist deep. After obtaining flashlights and lifejackets, the crew proceeded into the cabin and supervised the evacuation of the passengers and cabin attendants.
“The lack of crew coordination and the inadequate monitoring of the aircraft position in space during a critical phase of an instrument approach which resulted in an unplanned descent into the water. Contributing to this unplanned descent was an apparent unsafe landing gear condition induced by the design of the landing gear indicator lights, and the omission of the minimum crossing altitude at an approach fix depicted on the approach chart.”