Accident description
Last updated: 30 October 2014
Status:Final
Date:Monday 13 March 1967
Time:17:10 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic VISC model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Vickers 818 Viscount
Operator:South African Airways - SAA
Registration: ZS-CVA
C/n / msn: 317
First flight: 1958
Engines: 4 Rolls-Royce Dart 525
Crew:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Passengers:Fatalities: 20 / Occupants: 20
Total:Fatalities: 25 / Occupants: 25
Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:2,4 km (1.5 mls) SE off Kayser's Beach (   South Africa) show on map
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Port Elizabeth Airport (PLZ/FAPE), South Africa
Destination airport:East London Airport (ELS/FAEL), South Africa
Flightnumber: 406
Narrative:
Vickers Viscount ZS-CVA, named "Rietbok", was on a scheduled public transport flight SA406 from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg via East London and Bloemfontein, South Africa.
At Port Elizabeth crew took on board 2,000 lbs. of fuel in excess of the normal sector fuel uplift, on the basis that they may had to overfly East London and proceed to Bloemfontein due to poor weather at East London.
The flight made a normal take-off from Port Elizabeth at 16:41 UTC and climbed to Flight Level 90. At 16:58 UTC the aircraft contacted East London Airport Control and was given a weather report: 8/8ths Nimbo Stratus at 200 feet to 300 feet overhead, lowering on the approaches to runway 28; continuous drizzle; visibility 3/4 of a mile; ground temperature plus 16°C.; QNH 1025.
At 16:59 UTC the aircraft acknowledged the weather and requested descent clearance from Flight Level 90. Clearance was given by East London Tower and acknowledged.
At 17:07 UTC the flight was cleared for a runway 10 approach. The last radio transmission was at 17:09 UTC when the flight reported at 2000 feet with the coast line in sight. The airplane impacted the sea at high speed about 17:10 UTC.
Bits of floating wreckage, consisting mainly of cabin interior fittings, were recovered by naval vessels and other pieces were washed ashore.
The main wreckage of the aircraft is believed to he lying at a depth of between 180 and 220 feet, approximately 1½ miles off-shore. Extensive salvage operations were attempted, but were hindered by murky water, a current up to 8 kts. and dangerous sea conditions.


PROBABLE CAUSE: "The available data is not sufficient for the originating cause of the accident to be determined with any degree of probability. In the opinion of the Board certain possibilities can be excluded as being consistent with the evidence and/or as being remote and improbable; among these possibilities are structural failure, failure of the controls, or control surfaces, multiple engine failure, instrument failure, explosion, fire, a 'bad weather' accident and pilot error.
However, on the evidence the Board cannot exclude as the originating cause of the accident a heart attack suffered by the captain in the air, with ensuing loss of control of the aircraft, and with the first officer being unable in the time available to regain sufficient control to prevent contact with the sea."
It was later rumored that the aircraft crashed as a result of a structural failure, because comparable accidents happened during that time.

Classification:
Flightcrew incapacitation
Loss of control

Sources:
» Rietbok: new evidence (Daily Dispatch, April 20, 2001)

Official accident investigation report
investigating agency: Board of Inquiry South Africa - South Africa
report status: Final
report number: Accident Investigation Report
report released:02-AUG-1967
duration of investigation:142 days (4.7 months)
download report: South African Airways Vickers Viscount 818 ZS-CVA in the Indian Ocean off Kayser's Beach, approximately 15 nautical miles south-west of the Ben Schoeman Airport, East London 13th March 1967 (Board of Inquiry S.A. Accident Investigation Report)

Follow-up / safety actions

Board of Inquiry issued 5 Safety Recommendations

Show all AD's and Safety Recommendations

Photos

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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 Port Elizabeth Airport to East London Airport as the crow flies is 230 km (144 miles).

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Vickers Viscount

  • 62nd loss
  • 445 built
  • 13th worst accident (at the time)
  • 29th worst accident (currently)
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 South Africa
  • worst accident (at the time)
  • 2nd worst accident (currently)
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