ⓘ Saab 90 Scandia

Saab 90 Scandia

ⓘ Saab 90 Scandia

The Saab 90 Scandia was a civil passenger aeroplane, manufactured by the Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget, in Linkoping, Sweden. In 1944, as it was becoming clear that hostilities in Europe 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.

The design of the 90 Scandia was quite similar to the DC-3. The most distinct visible difference was that the 90 had tricycle landing gear while the DC-3 had a tailwheel. The Scandia also had a quite different vertical stabilizer shape, and numerous more subtle differences. The 90 had to compete with the many surplus DC-3s available on the market at the same time, making sales difficult.


1. Design and development

Development started in February 1944. Takeoff 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 nosewheel and fully retractable landing gear. 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-E Twin Wasp E. Two Brazilian airlines VASP and Aerovias do Brasil also ordered a total of six aircraft. The prototype was subsequently converted to a luxury private executive aircraft for the Brazilian industrialist Olavo Fontoura.


1.1. Design and development Design

The Scandia project was initiated in 1944 by a supposed need after World War II for an aircraft carrying 25–30 passengers for a distance of up to 1000 km.

Main design objectives were: 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 provided:

  • Less structural weight
  • Better safety in an emergency landing
  • Possibility for one continuous flap

The wing was built in three pieces. The centre section with engine mounts, and left and right sections which were bolted to the centre section, immediately outboard of the engine nacelles.

The fuselage diameter was chosen to allow for four 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 the production version).

The entire aircraft was built of metal except for the rudders which were fabric-covered metal frames.


1.2. Design and development 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 slow-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 shut down, which at the time was typically not the case with twin-engined aircraft. Unfortunately the rudder harmony was not satisfactory, with high control 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, which previously contained only test equipment, was furnished. On February the 7th 1948 the prototype took off again and began the second testing phase. The second phase consisted of mainly performance tests. After 700 hours of test flying it was decided to introduce the following changes to the production planes:

  • Four-blade Hamilton-Standard propellers
  • More powerful engines
  • Spring tabs on rudder and elevators for reduced control forces


1.3. Design and development Promotional flying

In 1947 the prototype had quickly visited Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland. In May 1948 it made a one-day trip from Linkoping to Newcastle via Oslo. During these flights the prototype had only 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 outfitted.

The prototype departed on August 9, 1948. After visits to 11 European countries, SE-BCA returned to Linkoping on November 11, 1948. The first stop was in Stockholm. Then in the following order it visited Norway Oslo, Ireland Dublin, Great Britain, Denmark Copenhagen, Belgium Brussels, the Netherlands Amsterdam, Switzerland Geneva, Zurich, Portugal Lisbon, Oporto, Spain Madrid, France Paris and finally Finland. Total flying time was 113 hours with 123 takeoffs and a total distance of 37.200 km. 1.200 passengers were transported. In the Netherlands, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands 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 Linkoping 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 and Garuda.

A second promotional tour was started on August 16, 1949. With six extra fuel tanks, each carrying 400 litres, 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 Gustaf von Rosen, who at the time was counsellor to the Ethiopian Air Force. Athens, Cairo, Asmara, Port Sudan and Luxor were also visited on this tour. On this tour the plane was subjected to temperatures of 50 °C, with no problems. When the plane returned to Paris the extra fuel tanks were reinstalled.

On September 4, SE-BCA left Paris with destination Pratt & Whitneys home base in Hartford, Connecticut. With stop-overs in Prestwick, Iceland and Greenland, the trip took three days. In Hartford the extra fuel tanks were removed and the interior was refitted. An extensive demonstration program all over the USA followed. 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.


2. Operational history

The first production Scandias were delivered in 1950. SAS received its eight aircraft between October 1950 and October 1954. SAS initially operated its Scandias on intra-Scandinavian flights. Scheduled services by Scandias were operated also to European cities including Amsterdam, Brussels and London Airport Heathrow between 1951 and 1955.

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

The Swedish Air Force put heavy and insistent demands upon the SAAB factory, for the Saab 29 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. The sole surviving Scandia is the 16th built, ex VASP PP-SQR, which is preserved in deteriorating condition by a museum at Bebedouro in the state of São Paulo, Brazil.


3. Accidents and incidents

Three VASP Scandias were lost in fatal crashes with a further two written off in non-fatal accidents.

  • December 30, 1958: a VASP Saab Scandia 90A-1 registration PP-SQE flying from Rio de Janeiro-Santos Dumont to São Paulo-Congonhas during climb after takeoff had a failure on engine no. 1. The pilot initiated procedures to return to the airport but during the second turn the aircraft stalled and crashed into Guanabara Bay. Of the 34 passengers and crew aboard, 20 died.
  • November 26, 1962: a VASP Saab Scandia 90A-1 registration PP-SRA en route from São Paulo-Congonhas to Rio de Janeiro-Santos Dumont collided in the air over the Municipality of Paraibuna, State of São Paulo with a private Cessna 310, registration PT-BRQ, en route from Rio de Janeiro-Santos Dumont to São Paulo-Campo de Marte. Both were flying on the same airway AB-6 in opposite directions and failed to have visual contact. Both aircraft crashed, killing all 23 passengers and crew of the Saab and four occupants of the Cessna.
  • September 23, 1959: a VASP Saab Scandia 90A-1 registration PP-SQV en route from São Paulo-Congonhas to Rio de Janeiro-Santos Dumont during climb after takeoff did not gain enough height and crashed 1 1/2 minutes out of São Paulo killing all 20 passengers and crew.


4. Survivors

Only one 90 Scandia, PP-SQR, remains. It stands outdoors in at the Museu de Armas, Veiculos e Maquinas Eduardo Andre Matarazzo 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.


5. Specifications

Data From Seventeen to Thirty-Nine,

General characteristics

  • Wingspan: 28 m 91 ft 10 in
  • Length: 21.3 m 69 ft 11 in
  • Wing area: 85.7 m 2 922 sq ft
  • Crew: 3 + cabin attendant
  • Fuel capacity: 2.000 l 530 US gal; 440 imp gal
  • Aspect ratio: 9.15
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2180-E Twin Wasp E 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines, 1.361 kW 1.825 hp each with water injection
  • Max takeoff weight: 15.900 kg 35.053 lb
  • Height: 7.4 m 24 ft 3 in
  • Capacity: 24 or 32 passengers / 10.7 m 3 377.9 cu ft cargo underfloor
  • Propellers: 4-bladed constant-speed feathering propellers
  • Empty weight: 9.960 kg 21.958 lb


  • Take-off run to 15 m 49 ft: 850 m 2.789 ft prototype
  • Cruise speed: 340 km/h 210 mph, 180 kn normal cruise
  • Range: 2.650 km 1.650 mi, 1.430 nmi
  • Maximum speed: 450 km/h 280 mph, 240 kn at 2.600 m 8.530 ft
  • Landing run from 15 m 49 ft: 610 m 2.001 ft prototype
  • Service ceiling: 7.500 m 24.600 ft
  • Wing loading: 159 kg/m 2 33 lb/sq ft prototype
  • Rate of climb: 7.5 m/s 1.480 ft/min
  • Power/mass: 0.1586 kW/kg 0.0965 hp/lb prototype