Accident description
Last updated: 22 October 2014
Status:Final
Date:Wednesday 8 November 1961
Time:21:24
Type:Silhouette image of generic CONI model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Lockheed L-049E Constellation
Operator:Imperial Airlines
Registration: N2737A
C/n / msn: 1976
First flight: 1946
Total airframe hrs:32589
Engines: 4 Wright R-3350 (745C18BA3) Cyclone
Crew:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 5
Passengers:Fatalities: 74 / Occupants: 74
Total:Fatalities: 76 / Occupants: 79
Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:1,5 km (0.9 mls) S of Richmond International Airport (Byrd Field), VA (RIC) (   United States of America) show on map
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Domestic Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Baltimore/Washington Friendship International Airport, MD (BWI/KBWI), United States of America
Destination airport:Columbia Metropolitan Airport, SC (CAE/KCAE), United States of America
Flightnumber:201/8
Narrative:
Imperial Airlines Flight 201/8 was scheduled to transport newly inducted members of the U.S. Army to Columbia, SC, for training. The Lockheed L-049 was to depart Columbia (CAE), enplane passengers at Newark, NJ (EWR), Wilkes Barre, PA, and Baltimore, MD (BWI), and transport them to Columbia.
The flight departed for Baltimore at 19:12, VFR at an altitude of 4,500 ft. The flight landed at Baltimore and 17 additional passengers were boarded.
The trainee flight engineer opened the Nos. 3 and 4 crossfeeds like he had done on previous occasions on the flight, in anticipation of a drop in fuel pressure. The Constellation departed at 20:30, climbing to 4500 feet.
En route, the no. 3 and 4 engines continued to run the no. 4 fuel tank dry. Suddenly, the airplane yawed to the right and the fuel pressure warning lights for engines 3 and 4 came on. Engine no.3 stopped and engine no.4 surging between 1,500 and 2,000 rpm.
They were unable to restart the engines, so the props were feathered and a diversion to Richmond was initiated.
As the flight approached the airport for an intended landing on runway 33, the captain (who was acting as co-pilot), without warning to the pilot-in-command, turned the aircraft to attempt a runway 02 landing and selected the gear down. When the landing gear didn't extend because of mismanagement of the hydraulic system under the existing conditions, a go-around was attempted with only the no. 1 and 2 engines operating. During the poorly executed go-around the no. 1 engine failed as a result of overboosting. In an attempt to reach runway 33 the aircraft crashed and burned half a mile to the left of the extended runway centerline and one mile short of the runway threshold.


PROBABLE CAUSE: "The lack of command coordination and decision, lack of judgement, and lack of knowledge of the equipment resulting in loss of power in three engines creating an emergency situation which the crew could not handle."

Classification:
Fuel starvation
Loss of control

Sources:


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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 Baltimore/Washington Friendship International Airport, MD to Columbia Metropolitan Airport, SC as the crow flies is 700 km (438 miles).

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Lockheed L-049

  • 23rd loss
  • 88 built
  • 2nd worst accident (at the time)
  • 3rd worst accident (currently)
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 United States of America
  • 4th worst accident (at the time)
  • 34th worst accident (currently)
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