Narrative:While operating on a scheduled service from London to West Africa via Bordeaux, France, the aircraft crashed into high ground while flying in level attitude in bad visibility. The flight was advised to land at Lympne after being unable to land at Bordeaux or Le Bourget.
The aircraft struck high ground in conditions of bad visibility. Although it is certain that the engines would soon have failed as the result of fuel starvation, they were running until a few moments before the crash. It is probable that the captain closed the throttles directly he saw the ground or the trees.
Probable Cause:PROBABLE CAUSE: "The accident was due to the following chain of circumstances: (a) The weather conditions encountered throughout the flight. (b) Bad crewing, as a result of which three of the four operational members of the crew were unfamiliar with the route London - Bordeaux (and Toulouse). (c) The captain's failure to ensure that he had all the necessary navigational and landing aid information for that part of the route. In this respect the navigator cannot be considered blameless. (d) The unfortunate chance intervention of the York at Bordeaux but for which it seeme likely the aircraft would have landed there. In spite of this delay the aircraft could, in fact, have landed as it was then the only one in the vicinity and all radio facilities were at its disposal. (e) The captain's decision to go to Le Bourget before ascertaining the weather conditions there in preference to returning to the U.K. His navigator had given him ETA's at London and Le Bourget of 1518 end 1443 hrs. respectively, and he knew Le Bourget. In the light of the evidence it is clear the aircraft would have had more than half en hour's fuel remaining it he had returned direct to England. (f) The captains failure to inform Le Bourget of his 1440 hrs. E.T.A. until six minutes earlier. This gave the French station very short notice at a time when much traffic was being handled there in QBI conditions. (g) The inability of Cormeilles to handle two aircraft at once owing to the lack of a second channel, as stated in the French Notice to Airmen No. 49 of 21.10.46. (h) The captain's failure to ask Regional Control for further guidance after the failure to establish contact with Cormeilles between 1447 hrs., when he acknowledged the diversion and 1514 hrs. when he asked for a Q.D.M. (j) The decision of the captain then to try and reach England having regard to his fuel situation at that stage of the flight."
» The Civil Aircraft Registers of Great Britain
This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.