Accident description
Last updated: 25 October 2014
Status:Final
Date:Saturday 2 October 1971
Time:10:10 UTC
Type:Vickers 951 Vanguard
Operator:British European Airways - BEA
Registration: G-APEC
C/n / msn: 706
First flight: 1959-10-17 (11 years 12 months)
Total airframe hrs:21683
Cycles:17261
Engines: 4 Rolls-Royce Tyne 506
Crew:Fatalities: 8 / Occupants: 8
Passengers:Fatalities: 55 / Occupants: 55
Total:Fatalities: 63 / Occupants: 63
Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:1 km (0.6 mls) E of Aarsele (   Belgium) show on map
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:London-Heathrow Airport (LHR/EGLL), United Kingdom
Destination airport:Salzburg-W. A. Mozart Airport (SZG/LOWS), Austria
Flightnumber: 706
Narrative:
En route from London (LHR) to Salzburg (SZG) at an altitude 19000 feet the rear pressure bulkhead ruptured. An explosive decompression of the fuselage occurred, causing serious interior damage and severe distortion of the outer skin. The tail surfaces subsequently failed, causing the airplane to enter a steep dive. The Vanguard spiralled down out of control and crashed in a field next to a highway.
During the investigation corrosion was found in the lower part of the rear pressure bulkhead underneath plating that was bonded to the structure. The bond was completely delaminated in this area and the bulkhead material literally eaten away. Fluid contamination, perhaps from the lavatory, was thought to have been the root cause for the corrosion.


CAUSE: "The accident was caused by the rupture of the rear pressure bulkhead, which led to the separation both tailplanes in flight and caused the aircraft to dive into the ground."

Classification:

Fuselage failure
Loss of control

Sources:
» Applying Lessons Learned From Accidents : Accident/Incident Summary Japan Airlines Flight 123, Boeing 747, Gunma Prefecture Japan

Official accident investigation report
investigating agency: Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) - United Kingdom
report status: Final
report number: AAIB AAR 15/1972
report released:01-AUG-1972
duration of investigation:304 days (10.1 months)
download report: British European Airways Vanguard, G-APEC. Report on the accident which occurred at Aarsele, Belgium, on 2 October 1971 (AAIB AAR 15/1972)
cover

Follow-up / safety actions
Inspections of other Vickers Vanguard planes revealed similar corrosion in eight other aircraft. Inspection procedures were revised and the airplane was modified to improve access to the inspected area. The frequency of inspections was increased considerably.

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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 London-Heathrow Airport to Salzburg-W. A. Mozart Airport as the crow flies is 1043 km (652 miles).

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Vickers Vanguard

  • 2nd loss
  • 44 built
  • worst accident (at the time)
  • 2nd worst accident (currently)
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 Belgium
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