ASN Aircraft accident Douglas DC-6B PH-DFO North Sea, 37km N Dutch coast
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Monday 23 August 1954
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC6 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas DC-6B
Operator:KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Registration: PH-DFO
MSN: 43556/257
First flight: 1952
Total airframe hrs:6308
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney R-2800
Crew:Fatalities: 9 / Occupants: 9
Passengers:Fatalities: 12 / Occupants: 12
Total:Fatalities: 21 / Occupants: 21
Aircraft damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:North Sea, 37km N Dutch coast (   Netherlands)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Shannon Airport (SNN/EINN), Ireland
Destination airport:Amsterdam-Schiphol International Airport (AMS/EHAM), Netherlands
KLM Douglas DC-6 PH-DFO (named "Willem Bontekoe") departed New York on 22 August for a flight to Amsterdam with an en-route stop at Shannon. The aircraft departed Shannon at 09:29 GMT for the last leg of the flight. After almost two hours the crew contacted Amsterdam and reported crossing the Netherlands FIR boundary. Three minutes later they contacted Amsterdam Area Control Centre reporting that they were starting the descent for Amsterdam, heading for the Spykerboor beacon. Estimated arrival time over the Spykerboor beacon was 11:37. The flight was then cleared to approach this beacon at 5500 feet or above, later amended to 4500 feet and 3500 feet or above. At 11:35 Amsterdam Area Control Centre cleared the flight to descend to 2500 feet but no answer was received. After an extensive search, hampered by low clouds, showers and heavy seas, floating debris was found at 16:10, off the Dutch coast near Bergen.
Witnesses on the ground reported having heard the flight pass overhead near Egmond (where Airway 'Green 2' crosses the coast. Other witnesses also reported seeing the aircraft at 12:01 when it passed overhead at a low altitude heading back for the sea.
Salvage work was stopped on November 25, when 45-50% of the aircraft had been brought ashore.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "A number of hypotheses as to the cause of the accident were developed. Some possibilities considered were: overheating of the electric system with heavy smoke development, explosion of one of the high pressure bottles, failure of a cockpit window failure of the automatic pilot. However, no hypothesis could be formulated in which all occurrences and evidence could be made reasonably acceptable. Therefore, in November 1955, after a 15-months' period of intensive investigation, the conclusion had to be drawn that the cause of the accident could not be established."

» ICAO Circular 50-AN/45 (p.17-19)


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This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Shannon Airport to Amsterdam-Schiphol International Airport as the crow flies is 919 km (575 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

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-6

  • 704 built
  • 20th loss
  • 15th fatal accident
  • 11th worst accident (at the time)
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  • 3rd worst accident (at the time)
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