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Last updated: 13 November 2018
Status:Final
Date:Tuesday 2 September 1958
Time:06:32
Type:Vickers 621 Viking 1
Operator:Independent Air Travel
Registration: G-AIJE
C/n / msn: 127
First flight: 1946
Crew:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Ground casualties:Fatalities: 4
Aircraft damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:5 km (3.1 mls) NE of London Airport (LHR) (   United Kingdom)
Phase: Initial climb (ICL)
Nature:Cargo
Departure airport:London Airport (LHR/EGLL), United Kingdom
Destination airport:Nice-Côte d'Azur Airport (NCE/LFMN), France
Narrative:
The Vickers Viking aircraft departed London, U.K. at 05:54 GMT for a flight to Nice, Brindisi, Athens and Tel Aviv.
The only persons on board were the three crew members, and the freight load consisted of two Bristol Proteus engines properly loaded and secured on stands.
At 06:09 hours when some ten miles south-east of Dunsfold, the captain reported that he was experiencing engine trouble and wished to divert to Blackbushe and asked for the weather there. In reply it was suggested that he return to Dunsfold at his present altitude of 7,000 feet. At 06:11 hours, the captain was asked whether he had feathered one engine to which he replied that he bad only throttled it down.
The flight was cleared down to 5,000 feet with instructions that Blackbushe required them at their beacon at 3,000 feet. At 06:16 hours, the captain advised that he had feathered the starboard engine and would be starting it again for his landing at Blackbushe. After passing Dunsfold, the flight was instructed to set course for Blackbushe beacon and to contact Blackbushe. At this point the aircraft should have taken up a north-westerly course but instead, directed its course to the east of north towards Epsom, an error in heading of some 70 degrees.
The captain reported to Blackbushe and received a clearance to the beacon at 3,000 feet. About this time, the air traffic controller at London Airport who had controlled the outward flight saw on the radar that the aircraft was on the wrong course and approaching Epsom. The Epsom stack controller was informed and he spoke to Blackbushe and asked that the Viking's position be checked prior to permitting descent below 3,000 feet.
On receipt of request from Blackbushe at 06:22 hours to confirm that he was on course the captain replied "I have your beacon, turning and going dead ahead". Immediately afterwards, when told
that he was heading for Epsom, he said he would "re-tune". At 06:24 hours, the captain asked for a QDM which was given and he was offered GCA (Ground Controlled Approach). At this point came the first indication of difficulty as the captain reported having one engine feathered and experiencing difficulty in unfeathering. In fact as learnt later, his starboard feathering motor had been burnt out. Two minutes later, the captain reported his position as ten miles east of Blackbushe "and having difficulty maintaining height".
He then gave his height as 1000 feet which he immediately corrected to 800 feet.
A series of messages followed in which the captain asked for and was given QDM's while the GCA at Blackbushe attempted without success to contact the aircraft. At 06:27 hours the captain reported 500 feet and a minute later when stating his distance as five miles from Blackbushe he gave a height of 400 feet. In fact at about this time the aircraft was twenty miles away and veering to the north. At 06:30 hours, the first officer appears to have taken over the R/T giving the height as 200 feet. After the series of QDM's to which the aircraft could no longer correct her course, the first officer reported "almost on the deck" and soon after "over a town". Finally he gave the Mayday signal at 06:32.
Eyewitnesses confirmed that the aircraft was flying on the port engine only, the starboard engine being feathered.
The Viking crashed into houses at Kelvin Gardens, Southall about three miles north-east of London Airport. All three crew members and four persons on the ground were killed.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The aircraft was allowed to lose height and flying speed with the result that the pilot was no longer able to exercise asymmetric control. The conduct of the pilot and the whole course of events outlined were contributed to by the deliberate policy of this Company, which was to keep its aircraft in the air and gainfully employed regardless of the regulations or of the elementary requirements which should enjoin consideration for the conditions of working of its employees or the maintenance of its aircraft. Any responsibility of the captain is to be viewed in the light of his position as an employee upon whose shoulders an intolerable burden was placed."

Sources:
» ICAO Accident Digest, Circular 59-AN/54 (202-210)


Photos

photo of Vickers 621 Viking 1 G-AIJE
photo of Vickers 621 Viking 1 G-AIJE
photo of Vickers 621 Viking 1 G-AIJE
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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 London Airport to Nice-Côte d'Azur Airport as the crow flies is 1034 km (646 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

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