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.
|Date:||Saturday 2 October 1971|
|Type:||Vickers 951 Vanguard|
|Operator:||British European Airways - BEA|
|C/n / msn:|| 706|
|First flight:|| 1959-10-17 (11 years 12 months)|
|Total airframe hrs:||21683|
|Engines:|| 4 Rolls Royce 506 Tyne|
|Crew:||Fatalities: 8 / Occupants: 8|
|Passengers:||Fatalities: 55 / Occupants: 55|
|Total:||Fatalities: 63 / Occupants: 63 |
|Airplane damage:|| Written off|
|Airplane fate:|| Written off (damaged beyond repair)|
|Location:||1 km (0.6 mls) E of Aarsele (Belgium)
|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|
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."
» Applying Lessons Learned From Accidents : Accident/Incident Summary Japan Airlines Flight 123, Boeing 747, Gunma Prefecture Japan
Official accident investigation report
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.
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).