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Saab 90 Scandia

By Wikipedia,
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Saab 90 Scandia
Saab Scandia of SAS at London Airport (Heathrow) in May 1953
Role Passenger aircraft
Manufacturer Saab
First flight November 16, 1946
Introduced 1944
Status Out of production
Produced 1944-1954
Number built 18

The Saab 90 Scandia was a civil passenger aeroplane, manufactured by the Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget (SAAB), in Linköping, Sweden. In 1944, as it was becoming clear that hostilities in Europe (the Second World War) would soon be at an end, SAAB realised that the company had to diversify from purely military endeavours if it were to survive. The board therefore decided to put into action a plan to manufacture a twin-engined, short- to medium-haul passenger aircraft, as a successor for the Douglas DC-3 Dakota. (This was the same commercially-driven stimulus that led to automobile production, with the Ursaab and subsequent Saab 92 passenger vehicles.)

The design of the 90 Scandia is quite similar to the DC-3. The only distinct visible difference is that the 90 has tricycle gear while the DC-3 is a taildragger. The 90 had to compete with the many surplus DC-3s available on the market at the same time, making sales difficult.

Design and development

Model of Saab Scandia at Linkoping
Model of Saab Scandia at Linkoping

Development started in February 1944. Take-off weight was specified at about 11,600 kg, with a range of about 1,000 km. The prototype Saab 90 (Scandia) first flew in November 1946. It was capable of seating 24–32 passengers, with low-speed capability. It was to be fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-2000 engines. It had a single nose-wheel and fully retractable undercarriage. ABA Swedish Airlines, a predecessor of SAS, ordered 11 examples. The 'Type Certificate' was issued in June 1950. Delivery started in October 1950 but, after testing, specification had changed to the Pratt & Whitney R-2180-E1. Two Brazilian airlines (VASP and Aerovias do Brasil) also ordered a total of 6 aircraft. The prototype was subsequently converted to a luxury private executive aircraft, for the Brazilian industrialist Olavo Fontoura.


The Scandia project was initiated in 1944 by a supposed need (after WW2) of aircraft carrying 25–30 passengers for a distance of up to 1000 km.

Main design objectives:

  • Safety
  • Two Engines
  • Long Life
  • Economic Operation

The wing was shaped, using NACA profiles, to provide good stalling characteristics. Low wing design was chosen since it provides:

  • Less structural weight
  • Better safety by emergency landing
  • Possibility for one continual flap

The wing was built in three pieces. The centre section with engine mounts. Left and right section which were bolted to the centre section, just outside the engine area.

The airframe diameter was chosen to allow for 4 seats per row. This configuration gave a capacity of 32 passengers. A configuration with wider and more comfortable seats, three seats per row, carrying a total of 24 passengers was also offered. The prototype (90.001) was equipped with 1,450 bhp (1,080 kW) Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R2000 engines (changed to 1,650 bhp (1,230 kW) P&W Twin Wasp R2180 on production version).
The entire aircraft was built in metal except for the rudders which were fabric covered metal frames.

First Flight & Test Flights

The prototype (SE-BCA) made its first flight on November 16, 1946. Claes Smith was the pilot. The first flight lasted for 20 minutes. The plane had exceptionally good low flying characteristics, with full control down to 110–115 km/h. The stall was slow and preceded by vibrations. The plane also turned out to be easily maneuvered with one engine turned off, which at the time was typically not the case with two-engined aircraft. Unfortunately the rudder harmony was not satisfactory, with high lever forces in some situations. The engine installation also needed redesign.

The prototype flew a total of 154 hours before the winter of 1947/48 when it was parked in the hangar for modifications. The engines were elevated for increased clearance between propeller blades and ground. The cabin, that previously only contained test equipment, was decorated. On February the 7th 1948 the prototype took off again and began the second testing phase. The second phase mostly consisted of performance tests. After 700 hours of test flying it was decided to introduce the following changes to the production planes:

  • More powerful engines
  • Four blade Hamilton-Standard propellers
  • Springtabs on side- and elevation rudders for reduced lever forces

Promotional Flying

In 1947 had the prototype quickly visited Denmark, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland. In May 1948 it made a one day trip from Linköping to Newcastle via Oslo. During these flights the prototype only had test equipment on board. No real demonstration flights with potential customers took place. For this reason it was decided to make a real demonstration tour through Europe now that the cabin was properly decorated.

113 Hours Around Europe
The prototype departed on August 9, 1948. After visits to 11 European countries SE-BCA returned to Linköping on November 11, 1948. The first stop was in Stockholm. Then in the following order it visited Norway (Oslo), Ireland (Dublin), England (Prestwick, Gatwick, Jersey), Denmark (Copenhagen), Belgium (Bruxelles), Holland (Amsterdam), Switzerland (Geneva, Zürich), Portugal (Lisbon, Oporto), Spain (Madrid), France (Paris) and finally Finland. Total flying time was 113 hours with 123 take offs and a total distance of 37.200 km. 1.200 passengers were transported. In Holland, Prince Bernhard of Holland flew the plane.

In every town the Scandia was welcomed by the respective airline and local press, but it did not result in any orders. Many airlines also visited Linköping for a closer look and demonstration during the years 1948–49. Some of these were DNL, Fred Olsen, DDL, Aero Oy, Swissair, FAMA, Aerol, Argentinas, KLM, Air Service, Sabena, Garuda.

Three Continents
A second promotional tour was started on August 16, 1949. With six extra fuel tanks, each carrying 400 liters, SE-BCA started a tour that would take it to three continents. This was also the last time it was seen in Sweden.

The first trip went to Paris where the extra fuel tanks were removed. On August 23 SE-BCA arrived to Addis Abeba (Ethiopia). The following day emperor Haile Selassie went on a demonstration tour. Present on this tour was also Carl von Rosen, who at the time was counsellor for the Ethiopian Air Force. Athen, Kairo, Asmara, Port Sudan and Luxor were also visited on this tour. On this tour the plane was subjected to temperatures of 50C, with no problems. When the plane returned to Paris the extra fuel tanks were reinstalled.

On September 4 SE-BCA left Paris with destination of Pratt & Whitney's homebase in Hartford, Connecticut. Stop-overs in Greenland, Iceland and Prestwick. The trip took 3 days. In Hartford the extra fuel tanks were removed and the interior was refitted. A extensive demonstration program all over the USA took place. Some of the cities visited were New York, Washington, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and Houston. In Los Angeles Howard Hughes flew the Scandia, and he praised the design. On October 14 the Scandia returned to Hartford.

Airline service

VASP Scandia PP-SQN (nearest) at Sao Paolo Congonhas in 1965
VASP Scandia PP-SQN (nearest) at Sao Paolo Congonhas in 1965

The first production Scandias were delivered in 1950. SAS received their eight aircraft between October 1950 and October 1954. SAS initially operated their Scandias on intra-Scandinavian flights. Scheduled services by Scandias were also operated to European cities including London Airport (Heathrow) between 1953 and 1955.

VASP operated their fleet of new and ex-SAS Scandias on intra-Brasilian scheduled flights between October 1950 and late 1966.

The End

The Swedish Air Force put heavy and insistent demands upon the SAAB factory, for the Saab 29 Tunnan fighter aircraft, which spelled the end of the Scandia project in Sweden, with residual production being undertaken by Fokker, in the Netherlands.

Altogether, only 18 examples were manufactured. The entire SAS fleet was eventually purchased by VASP, in 1957.

A larger version with pressurised cabin called 90B was planned, but never made.

The last flight with a 90 Scandia was on July 22, 1969.


Saab 90A
Twin-engined short-range airliner. Main production version.
Saab 90B
Proposed version. Not built.


 Denmark,  Norway and  Sweden

Accidents and incidents

Five Saab Scandia have been lost at crashes. Three of them were fatal with a total of 64 fatalities.

Date: December 30, 1958
Location: Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Operator: VASP
Route: Rio de Janeiro – São Paulo
Registration: PP-SQE
Cn: 90.103 (first flight: 1950)
Fatalities: 21 (passengers: 17, crew: 4)
Total on board: 37 (passengers: 33, crew: 4)
Narrative: The Saab took off from Rio de Janeiro and was climbing through an altitude of 50m when the no. 1 engine failed. The pilot made a 90 degree left turn and started another left turn after flying straight on for about 500m. During that turn, the aircraft stalled and crashed into the sea.
Probable Cause: "The accident was attributed to the pilot's incorrect handling of the controls in flight."

Date: September 23, 1959
Time: 18:40
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Operator: VASP
Route: São Paulo – Rio de Janeiro
Registration: PP-SQV
Cn: 90.106 (first flight: 1950)
Fatalities: 20 (passengers: 16, crew: 4)
Total on board: 20 (passengers: 16, crew: 4)
Narrative: The Saab plane didn't gain much height after takeoff from São Paulo and crashed 1 1/2 minutes out of São Paulo.
Probable Cause: "The cause of the accident could not be determined."

Date: August 15, 1960
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Operator: VASP
Route: São Paulo – Uberlandia, MG
Registration: PP-SQS
Cn: 90.113 (first flight: 1954)
Fatalities: 0
Total on board: n/a
Narrative: A fire occurred in the forward baggage compartment while the aircraft was on a flight from São Paulo to Uberlandia. The fire extinguisher was not used because the pilot thought that the fumes would invade the flight deck reducing the already poor visibility. An emergency landing was carried out on São Paulo-Viracopos runway 10, but the plane overran onto an area where the runway was being reconstructed.
Probable Cause: "1) Fire in the front luggage compartment. 2) Pilot misjudged distance. 3) Brakes and reverse thrust used too late. 4) Inadequate runway surface."

Date: November 26, 1962
Time: 12:09
Location: Near Paraibuna, Brazil
Operator: VASP
Route: São Paulo – Rio de Janeiro
Registration: PP-SRA
Cn: 90.107 (first flight: 1951)
Fatalities: 23 (passengers: 18, crew: 5)
Total on board: 23 (passengers: 18, crew: 5)
Narrative: The Saab took off from São Paulo at 11:44 GMT for an IFR flight to Rio de Janeiro. Last position report was at 12:03 when abeam São Jose dos Campos. Cessna 310 PT-BRQ took off from Rio de Janeiro-Santos Dumont at 11:11 GMT for a VFR flight to Marte. It was flying on the same airway (Airway AB-6) in the opposite direction. Both aircraft collided at 2400m and crashed. After the collision a Notam was issued, prohibiting VFR flights on the AB-6 airway.
Probable Cause: "Both pilots failed to maintain adequate lookouts for other aircraft."

Date: March 8, 1964
Location: Londrina Airport, PR
Operator: VASP
Route: Training flight
Registration: PP-SQY
Cn: 90.110 (first flight 1951)
Fatalities: 0 (passengers: 0, crew: 0)
Total on board: 4 (passengers: 0, crew: 4)
Narrative: Heavy landing


Only one 90 Scandia, PP-SQR, remains. It stands outdoors in a museum in Bebedouro, Brazil. It is said to be complete, but in very bad condition. SAAB tried to buy the plane for its 50 year jubilee in 1987, but the owner asked a price SAAB thought was unreasonably high.


General characteristics


See also

Comparable aircraft

External links

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Published in July 2009.

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