Narrative:The Dakota took off from Northolt with the copilot in the left hand seat and the captain in the right hand seat. While climbing through 400-500 feet, the undercarriage was retracted. At approximately that time engine problems forced the crew to shut down the no. 2 engine and feather the propeller. The captain then reported: "Request immediate landing and GCA assistance we are downwind on runway 26 ." The crew were given vectors, but with the undercarriage down again and flying on one engine, the crew could barely maintain heading. At some point the DC-3 lost altitude, struck some beach trees and dived almost vertically into the ground.
PROBABLE CAUSE: "The first and preponderant cause among those which contributed to the accident was the failure of the master rod bearings of the starboard engine. This failure could not have been foreseen or guarded against by any greater exercise of vigilance that could reasonably have been required of the operators and their staff. The secondary causes are harder to assess and evaluate. Among them are or may be: a) The failure of pilots to make an immediate visual landing upon realizing that they must stop the starboard engine; b) The failure of the pilots to make use of SBA although equipment was carried in the aircraft. SBA would not have been subject in this instance to the disadvantages of GCA ("presence of a mass of permanent echoes which obscure on the visual display returns from aircraft within the irregularity bounded area of sky, covered by those echoes"); c) The failure of the pilots, having elected to make use of GCA, to retract the undercarriage while flying away from the airport over the distance necessary to bring their aircraft under the effective control of GCA and thereafter; d) The glazing of the lead deposits on the sparking plugs of the port engine while under conditions of high power-output leading to ignition trouble and so to a lose of power sufficient to destroy the ability of the aircraft to maintain level flight; e) The necessity for taking drastic action with the controls to avoid the steeple of Harrow-on-the-Hill Church, and the high ground beyond, at a time when there was but a marginal reserve of power for maintaining level flight."
» ICAO Aircraft Accident Digest No.2, Circular 24-AN/21 (29-34)
Follow-up / safety actions
Following this accident, the U.K. investigators recommended the ICAO the adoption of rearward-facing seats for passenger aircraft.