Accident
Last updated: 28 July 2014
Status:Final
Date:Saturday 20 April 1968
Time:20:50
Type:Silhouette image of generic B703 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 707-344C
Operator:South African Airways - SAA
Registration: ZS-EUW
C/n / msn: 19705/675
First flight: 1968
Total airframe hrs:238
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT3D-7
Crew:Fatalities: 12 / Occupants: 12
Passengers:Fatalities: 111 / Occupants: 116
Total:Fatalities: 123 / Occupants: 128
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:5 km (3.1 mls) E of Windhoek-Strijdom International Airport (WDH) (   Namibia) show on map
Phase: Initial climb (ICL)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Windhoek-Strijdom International Airport (WDH/FYWE), Namibia
Destination airport:Luanda-4 de Fevereiro Airport (LAD/FNLU), Angola
Flightnumber: 228
Narrative:
A Boeing 707-344C passenger jet, registered ZS-EUW, was destroyed in a CFIT accident 5 km from Windhoek-Strijdom International Airport (WDH), Namibia. There were 116 passengers and 12 crew members on board. The airplane operated on a flight from Windhoek-Strijdom International Airport (WDH) to Luanda-4 de Fevereiro Airport (LAD). Five passengers survived the crash
The brand new Boeing 707 ZS-EUW was operating on South African Airways flight SA228 from Johannesburg to London via Windhoek, Luanda, Las Palmas and Frankfurt. At 20:49 the aircraft took off from Windhoek runway 08 and climbed to a height of about 650 feet above ground level. The plane leveled off and started to descend, flying into the ground 30 seconds later. The airplane impacted the ground some 5 km from the runway at a 271 knots groundspeed and rate of descent of about 2000 feet/min.


In regard to the cause of the accident:
(1) The effective cause of the accident was the human factor, and not any defect in the aircraft or in any of the engines or flight instruments.
(2) After a normal take- off and retraction of the landing gear, and while the aircraft was approaching an estimated height of 650 feet, the flaps were fully retracted and the engine output reduced from take- off power to climb power. There is no reason to suppose that these steps were not taken in the correct sequence and at the prescribed indicated airspeeds. In that phase of flight these alterations in flap
configuration and engine power would have caused the aircraft to level off and then lose height
(a) unless the pilot checked that tendency and maintained a climbing attitude by appropriate action, or
(b) until the aircraft gained much more speed.
(3) The aircraft levelled off and lost height, and during the short period in which it did so the pilot appears to have acted as if he believed that the aircraft was still climbing. He appears to have altered the stabilizer trim to maintain the aircraft in its same pitch attitude, which he apparently believed was an attitude of climb, but which was in fact an attitude of descent. In that situation, which lasted for about 30 seconds, the aircraft lost approximately 750 feet in height and flew into the ground.
(4) The co-pilot failed to monitor the flight instruments sufficiently to appreciate that the aircraft was losing height.
The following causes probably contributed in greater or lesser degree to the situation described above:
(a) take-off into conditions of total darkness with no external visual reference;
(b) inappropriate alteration of stabilizer trim;
(c) spatial disorientation;
(d) pre-occupation with after-take-off checks.
The following causes might have contributed in greater or lesser degree:
(a) temporary confusion in the mind of the pilot on the position of the inertial-lead vertical speed indicator, arising from the difference in the instrument panel layout in the C model of the Boeing 707-344 aircraft, as compared with the A and B models, to which both pilots were accustomed;
(b) the pilot's misinterpretation, by one thousand feet, of the reading on the drum-type altimeter, which is susceptible to ambiguous interpretation on the thousands scale;
(c) distraction on the flight deck caused by a bird or bat strike, or some other relatively minor occurrence.

Classification:
Loss of situational awareness
Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Ground

Sources:
» Aviation Disasters / D. Gero


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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 Windhoek-Strijdom International Airport to Luanda-4 de Fevereiro Airport as the crow flies is 1576 km (985 miles).

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Boeing 707

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  • 858 built
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  • 7th worst accident (currently)
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