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Accident description
Last updated: 23 August 2017
Status:
Date:Tuesday 21 December 1948
Time:ca 14:00
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC4 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas C-54B-5-DO (DC-4)
Operator:China National Aviation Corporation - CNAC
Registration: XT-104
C/n / msn: 18348
First flight: 1944
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney R-2000-11
Crew:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Passengers:Fatalities: 28 / Occupants: 28
Total:Fatalities: 35 / Occupants: 35
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Basalt Island (   Hong Kong)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Shanghai/Longhua (ZSSL), China
Destination airport:Hong Kong-Kai Tak International Airport (HKG/VHHH), Hong Kong
Narrative:
A CNAC Douglas C-54B passenger plane, XT-104, took off from Longhua Airport in Shanghai and was scheduled to fly at an altitude of 8,000 feet to Hong Kong. The flight took off at 09:32 and was expected to arrive at 14:02. At 13:30, the aircraft contacted the Hong Kong Airport and reported that the plane was flying at 8,000 feet, approximately 80 - 100 miles northeast of Hong Kong.
The controller ave the pilot permission to descend to 4,500 feet. Weather at the time was poor with low visibility.
Another CNAC aircraft, XT-103, was due to land before XT-104, and at 13:00 the crew reported that they were still flying on instruments at an elevation of 300 feet and had decided to abort their approach and climb to a safer height. The aircraft then diverted to Guangzhou. Similarly, a Pan American Airways flight diverted to Manila just 10 minutes later.
Encountering much better weather to the northwest of Hong Kong, XT-103 returned and landed at Hong Kong at 14:01. At the same time XT-104 was descending through a gap in the clouds. There was no response to subsequent attempts to contact the flight.
The aircraft impacted into the north slope of Wan Tam Shan, the main peak on Basalt Island, at an elevation of about 350 feet. Part of the right wing separated. The rest of the plane essentially bounced off the impact point on the northern slope, carried on airborne over the ridge and landed again on the southern slope approximately 130 feet from the point of initial impact. The plane continued to slide down the southern slope before coming to a rest approximately 450 feet from the point of initial impact.

Classification:
Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain

Sources:
» Basalt Island Crash Site Investigation / David A. Pickerell


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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.
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Douglas DC-4

  • 1242+ built
  • 100th loss
  • 48th fatal accident
  • 10th worst accident (at the time)
  • 43rd worst accident (currently)
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 Hong Kong
  • The worst accident (at the time)
  • 2nd worst accident (currently)
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