Accident description
Last updated: 28 July 2014
Status:Final
Date:Tuesday 30 May 1961
Time:01:20 UTC
Type:Douglas DC-8-53
Operating for:VIASA
Leased from:KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Registration: PH-DCL
C/n / msn: 45615/131
First flight: 1961
Total airframe hrs:209
Cycles:82
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT3D-1
Crew:Fatalities: 14 / Occupants: 14
Passengers:Fatalities: 47 / Occupants: 47
Total:Fatalities: 61 / Occupants: 61
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:3 km (1.9 mls) ENE off Fonte da Telha (   Portugal) show on map
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Lisboa-Portela de Sacavém Airport (LIS/LPPT), Portugal
Destination airport:Santa Maria-Vila do Porto Airport, Azores (SMA/LPAZ), Portugal
Flightnumber: 897
Narrative:
VIASA Flight 897 operated on the route Rome - Madrid (MAD) - Lisbon (LIS) - Santa Maria (SMA) - Caracas (CCS) when it landed at Lisbon at 00:06 UTC. Following a crew change and inspection by KLM maintenance personnel the flight was cleared for a runway 23 departure. The DC-8 took off at 01:15, heading the Capiraca (LS) NDB. At 01:18:37 the aircraft advised that the cloud base was at 3700 ft and changed to the Lisbon area control frequency. It reported again at 01:19 :25 to Lisbon Control that it was "over LS at 19 climbing through FL 60". This message ended with two quickly spoken sentences. This was the last radio contact with the flight. The DC-8 entered a spiral dive to the left during the last message, banking to the left to 90° within about 20 seconds and striking the water after another 15 seconds . During the last 15 seconds, the bank was overcorrected to the right. It struck the sea with a pitch angle of approximately 25° nose down, while it was probably banking 30° to the right.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "Notwithstanding a very thorough, time-consuming investigation, in which many authorities and experts co-operated, it was not possible to establish a probable cause of the accident."
The Netherlands, as state of registry commented: "Though there are no direct indications in this respect, the Board regards it as possible that the accident was due to the pilot or pilots being misled by instrument failure, in particular of the artificial horizon, or to the pilot having been distracted, so that a serious deviation from
the normal .flight path was not discovered in time ."

Classification:
Cause undetermined
Loss of control

Sources:
» ICAO Circular 69-AN/61


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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 Lisboa-Portela de Sacavém Airport to Santa Maria-Vila do Porto Airport, Azores as the crow flies is 1410 km (881 miles).

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DC-8

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