Accident description
Last updated: 26 October 2014
Status:Final
Date:Sunday 24 March 1968
Time:10:58
Type:Silhouette image of generic VISC model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Vickers 803 Viscount
Operator:Aer Lingus
Registration: EI-AOM
C/n / msn: 178
First flight: 1957
Total airframe hrs:18806
Cycles:16923
Crew:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Passengers:Fatalities: 57 / Occupants: 57
Total:Fatalities: 61 / Occupants: 61
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:3,1 km (1.9 mls) NE off Tuskar Rock (   Ireland) show on map
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Cork Airport (ORK/EICK), Ireland
Destination airport:London-Heathrow Airport (LHR/EGLL), United Kingdom
Flightnumber: 712
Narrative:
Flight 712 departed Cork (ORK) at 10:32 for a flight to London (LHR) and was cleared for FL170. The crew reported at the Bannow reporting point at FL170 at 10:57 and were instructed to change frequency to London Airways. Just eight seconds after first reporting on the London ATC frequency, a message was received which was later interpreted as "Twelve thousand feet descending spinning rapidly". The Viscount descended and struck the sea 1,7nm from Tuskar Rock.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "There is not enough evidence available on which to reach a conclusion of reasonable probability as to the initial cause of this accident.
The probable cause of the final impact with the sea was impairment of the controllability of the aircraft in the fore and aft (pitching) plane."

A Report of the investigation carried out into this accident was published in 1970. This investigation was conducted by officials of the Aeronautical Section of the Department of Transport and Power. The exact cause of the accident has never been established (see the Probable Cause above). Speculation has continued since the time of the accident, prompted by a hypothesis posed in the Report, that the Viscount may have been initially upset by the possible presence of another airborne object, drone or missile in its vicinity at the time. On the 30th anniversary of the accident, following newspaper articles and television programmes focusing on the possible involvement of U.K ships and missile ranges on the Welsh Coast in the downing of the aircraft, it was decided that Irish and U.K. officials would review all files held relating to the accident to see if the cause of the accident could be established. It was a.o. concluded that "the possibility of a cause other than a (near) collision with another airborne object being the initial cause of the upset .. .. does not appear to have been adequately examined in the 1970 Report." Following the review, in July 2000, the Irish Minister for Public Enterprise commissioned this independent study of the accident circumstances. The Study Conclusions, although not in ICAO Annex 13 format, indicate that:
(a) There was no other airborne object, missile, or drone in the vicinity of the upset.
(b) The flight path, supported by a mix of 46 new and previous witnesses, cannot be reconciled with two alleged transmissions from the crew at 10.51 GMT and at 10.57 GMT i.e. 'Level at 170', shown in transcripts.
(c) Some maintenance compliance periods were exceeded by a factor of four e.g.ss jobs called at 1,400 flying hours although due at 350 hours.
(d) There was a conflict of interest in the original 1970 Report inasmuch as the person in charge of that Report was also the same man who authorized the C of A renewal for EI-AOM shortly before the crash, despite the fact that the paperwork for the ‘2.04’ Inspection was missing and remains lost
(e) The initial upset occurred circa 10.40 hours GMT at about FL90 during the climb above the village of Old Parish in County Waterford. The aircraft was recovered from the dive and flew an erratic path inland until 10.58 GMT when there was a second spin or spiral dive from which the crew also recovered the aircraft. Total loss of control then occurred some minutes later near Tuskar Rock.

Classification:
Loss of control

Sources:

Official accident investigation report
investigating agency: Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) - Ireland
report status: Final
report number: AAIU Report No. 1970-001
report released:27-NOV-2001
duration of investigation:12301 days (33 years 8.5 months)
download report: Vickers Viscount, EI-AOM, fatal air crash off Tuskar Rock, 24 Mar 1968 (AAIU Report No. 1970-001)

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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 Cork Airport to London-Heathrow Airport as the crow flies is 551 km (344 miles).

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Vickers Viscount

  • 70th loss
  • 445 built
  • 2nd worst accident (at the time)
  • 4th worst accident (currently)
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 Ireland
  • 2nd worst accident
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