Accident description
Last updated: 30 October 2014
Status:Final
Date:Saturday 30 June 1956
Time:10:32
Type:Silhouette image of generic CONI model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Lockheed L-1049-54-80 Super Constellation
Operator:Trans World Airlines - TWA
Registration: N6902C
C/n / msn: 4016
First flight: 1952
Total airframe hrs:10519
Crew:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6
Passengers:Fatalities: 64 / Occupants: 64
Total:Fatalities: 70 / Occupants: 70
Collision casualties:Fatalities: 58
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Grand Canyon, AZ (   United States of America) show on map
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Los Angeles International Airport, CA (LAX/KLAX), United States of America
Destination airport:Kansas City Downtown Municipal Airport, MO (MKC/KMKC), United States of America
Flightnumber: 2
Narrative:
TWA Flight 2, a Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation, took off from Los Angeles (LAX) at 09:01 PST for an IFR flight to Kansas City (MKC). After reporting "on top" of the clouds at 2400 feet the crew contacted Los Angeles ARTCC. Clearance was given to climb to 19000 feet. Immediately thereafter TWA 2 asked for a routing change to Daggett via Victor Airway 210, This was approved. At 09:21 Flight 2 reported that it was approaching Daggett and requested a change in flight plan altitude assignment from 19,000 to 21,000 feet. The request was not approved because of traffic at FL210 (United Flight 718). A request for 1000 on top was granted. At 09:59 Flight 2 reported its position through company radio at Las Vegas. It reported that it had passed Lake Mohave at 09:55, was 1,000 on top at 21,000 feet, and estimated it would reach the 321-degree radial of the Winslow omni range station (Painted Desert) at 10:31. This was the last radio communication with the flight.
United Flight 718, a DC-7, had departed from Los Angeles at 09:04 for an IFR flight to Chicago cruising at FL210. At approximately 09:58 United 718 made a position report to the CAA communications station located at Needles. This report stated that the flight was over Needles at 09:58, at 21,000 feet, and estimated the Painted Desert at 10:31.
Both aircraft were at the same altitude on an intersecting course over Grand Canyon. United 718 was heading 46 degrees Magnetic and TWA 2 was heading 59 degrees Magnetic. Both aircraft collided in mid-air. First contact involved the centre fin leading edge of the Constellation and the left aileron tip of the DC-7. The lower surface of the DC-7 left wing struck the upper aft fuselage of the L-1049 with disintegrating force. The collision ripped open the fuselage of the Constellation from just forward of its tail to near the main cabin door. The empennage of the L-1049 separated almost immediately. The plane pitched down and fell to the ground. Most of the left outer wing of the DC-7 had separated and aileron control was restricted, causing the plane fell to the ground out of control.


PROBABLE CAUSE: "The pilots did not see each other in time to avoid the collision. It is not possible to determine why the pilots did not see ach other, but the evidence suggests that it resulted from any one or a combination of the following factors: 1) Intervening clouds reducing time for visual separation; 2) Visual limitations due to cockpit visibility, and; 3) Preoccupation with normal cockpit duties; 4) Preoccupation with matters unrelated to cockpit duties such as attempting to provide the passengers with a more scenic view of the Grand Canyon areal; 5) Physiological limits to human vision reducing the time opportunity to see and avoid the other aircraft, or; 6) Insufficiency of en-route air traffic advisory information due to inadequacy of facilities and lack of personnel in air traffic control."

Classification:
Mid air collision
Loss of control

Sources:
» ICAO Accident Digest Circular 54-AN/49 (95-111)


Photos

photo of Lockheed L-1049A Super Constellation N6902C
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Map
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 Los Angeles International Airport, CA to Kansas City Downtown Municipal Airport, MO as the crow flies is 2183 km (1364 miles).

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Lockheed L-1049

  • 11th loss
  • 564 built
  • 2nd worst accident (at the time)
  • 4th worst accident (currently)
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 United States of America
  • 2nd worst accident (at the time)
  • 38th worst accident (currently)
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