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Accident description
Last updated: 22 October 2017
Status:Final
Date:Wednesday 19 February 1958
Time:08:50
Type:Silhouette image of generic CAT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Consolidated Catalina IIA (PBY-5A)
Operator:Réseau Aérien Interinsulaire - RAI
Registration: F-OAVV
C/n / msn: 296
First flight:
Total airframe hrs:2277
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92
Crew:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 12 / Occupants: 23
Total:Fatalities: 15 / Occupants: 26
Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:off Raiatea Airport (RFP) (   French Polynesia)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Papeete-Faaa Airport (PPT/NTAA), French Polynesia
Destination airport:Raiatea Airport (RFP/NTTR), French Polynesia
Narrative:
The right wing tip float contacted the water during a shallow turn for final approach. The aircraft struck the water violently and sank in 36 m of water in about 10 minutes.

Probable Cause:

CAUSES OF THE ACCIDENT (translated from original French report):
Weather conditions:
Uniformly gray sky (altostratus clouds across the region and some fractocumulus at 400 meters);
The absence of wind;
The absence of lines on a gray and smooth lagoon.
created favorable conditions for an illusion and made it difficult to assess the exact height above the water level during the most difficult operation of the flight, the water landing. The evidence indicates that no maneuver was initiated to change the nose down attitude. The pilot did not see the water.
Although there was no wind, the windsock had previously stopped in a position that prompted the pilot to land facing the NW which is used once in twenty at Raiatea.
In addition, the sun , even through the altrostratus could be annoying;
facing the NW, the pilot had the sun three quarter from the rear.
Note that during the landing opposite the NW, the lap is necessarily right to avoid overflying the city and land. Vertical visibility of the first pilot during a right turn is poorer.
Finally, the slight correction of alignment by the pilot resulted the right wing striking the water at too low altitude.

Sources:
» ICAO Circular 64-AN/58


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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 Papeete-Faaa Airport to Raiatea Airport as the crow flies is 217 km (136 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

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Catalina

  • ca 4050 built
  • 530th loss
  • 238th fatal accident
  • 8th worst accident (at the time)
  • 9th worst accident (currently)
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 French Polynesia
  • The worst accident (at the time)
  • 3rd worst accident (currently)
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