Accident description
Last updated: 2 August 2014
Status:Final
Date:Thursday 8 April 1954
Time:19:10 UTC
Type:de Havilland DH-106 Comet 1
Operating for:South African Airways - SAA
Leased from:British Overseas Airways Corporation - BOAC
Registration: G-ALYY
C/n / msn: 06011
First flight: 1952-09-10 (1 year 7 months)
Total airframe hrs:2704
Engines: 4 de Havilland Ghost 50
Crew:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Passengers:Fatalities: 14 / Occupants: 14
Total:Fatalities: 21 / Occupants: 21
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:ca 17 km W off San Lucido (   Italy) show on map
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Roma-Ciampino Airport (CIA/LIRA), Italy
Destination airport:Cairo (unknown airport), Egypt
Flightnumber: 201
Narrative:
DH-106 Comet G-ALYY was leased to South African Airways by BOAC. It was flown by SAA crew members between Johannesburg and London with several intermediate stops. The aircraft was grounded in January 1954 following the in-flight structural breakup of sistership G-ALYP. Special checks were carried out and a number of modifications were made affecting the airframe, the controls and the fire detection and protection at the engines. On the 15th February, 1954, the fuselage was subjected to a proving test to 11 lb/sq. in. The aircraft was returned available for service on the 24th February, 1954.
Passengers services with Comet aircraft were permitted to resume on the 23rd March, 1954.
G-ALYY arrived at Rome-Ciampino (CIA) on the 7th April from London and was due to depart the same evening. However, on completion of refuelling it was discovered that the centre tank contents gauge showed no reading although the tank was full. The fault was eventually traced to a co-axial cable for which a replacement had to be flown from England and the departure of the aircraft was consequently delayed for about 24 hours.
SAA Flight 201 finally departed Rome at 18:32 UTC. G-ALYY climbed through three moderately thick layers of cloud. After taking off the aircraft from time to time gave its position by radio telephone to Rome Air Control at Ciampino and on the last such occasion at about 18:57 reported that it was abeam Naples and climbing to 35,000 ft. This position and those given earlier indicated that the flight was proceeding according to the B.O.A.C. flight plan. At 19:05 Cairo received a signal from the aircraft reporting its departure from Rome and giving its estimated time of arrival at Cairo. Thereafter no message was received from G-ALYY.
Based on the findings of the accident to G-ALYP, it was concluded that G-ALYY must also have suffered structural failure of the pressure cabin, due to fatigue.


PROBABLE CAUSE: "Owing to the absence of wreckage, we are unable to form a definite opinion on the cause of the accident near Naples, but we draw attention to the fact that the explanation offered for the accident at Elba appears to be applicable to that at Naples."

Classification:
Fuselage failure
Loss of control

Sources:
» ICAO Accident Digest, Circular 47-AN/42 (16-45)
» Report of the Public Inquiry into the causes and circumstances of the accident which occurred on the 8th of April, 1954, to the Comet aircraft G-ALYY


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DH-106 Comet

  • 7th loss
  • 112 built
  • 3rd worst accident (at the time)
  • 9th worst accident (currently)
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 Italy
  • 8th worst accident (at the time)
  • 25th worst accident (currently)
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