Accident description
Last updated: 16 April 2014
Status:Final
Date:Friday 4 October 1974
Time:20:01 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC6 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas DC-6B
Operator:Delta Air Transport - DAT
Registration: OO-VGB
C/n / msn: 43830/352
First flight: 1953
Total airframe hrs:43017
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CB16
Crew:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 6
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 99
Total:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 105
Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:Southend Municipal Airport (SEN) (   United Kingdom) show on map
Phase: Takeoff (TOF)
Nature:Int'l Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Southend Municipal Airport (SEN/EGMC), United Kingdom
Destination airport:Antwerpen-Deurne Airport (ANR/EBAW), Belgium
Narrative:
The aircraft landed at Southend (SEN) from Antwerp (ANR) at 07:50 hrs on a day excursion. Following a 9 hour rest period, the crew reported for duty at 18:30 to prepare for the return flight. Start up and taxying out were normal, and a limited power check was completed before take-off. The Captain, had given a full pre-take-off briefing before the aircraft left Antwerp that morning, and on this occasion only called for a 'standard briefing', but emphasised that the full abort procedures would be as given during his previous instruction. The First Officer was handling the aircraft from the right hand seat, and gave a shortened take-off briefing which included the actions required for engine failure before and after V1. Both pilots were wearing headsets, (not fitted with boom microphones) but were not using these for flight deck intercommunication purposes; the Flight Engineer was not wearing a headset. The Captain, who controlled the only source of nose-wheel steering, lined up the aircraft at the beginning of runway 24. Brakes were released and, after stabilising all four engines at 30 inches of manifold pressure, the First Officer advanced all the right hand throttle levers to take-off power. The Flight Engineer followed this movement with his left hand on the left-hand group of throttle levers and, when take-off power was achieved, held the throttle friction lever with his right hand. The Captain 's left hand was on the nose steering wheel.
At about 75-80 knots, shortly before V1, the Captain instructed the Flight Engineer to adjust the power on engines 1 and 2 which were overboosting slightly. The Flight Engineer made this adjustment coincident with the Captain calling V1 at about 88 knots, and very shortly afterwards the Captain saw the red 'gear unsafe' warning light illuminate. Unknown to the Captain or the First Officer the Flight Engineer had made an UP selection of the landing gear selector lever. He stated subsequently that he thought the Captain had instructed him to do so shortly after calling V1. The pilots maintain that no such order was given and that nothing additional to the normal procedural calls was said by either of them. The aircraft subsided on to its nose and its propellers struck the runway; throttles were closed and the Captain attempted to maintain directional control by use of rudder. The aircraft came to rest 3 metres from the end of the runway with its nose on the ground and with the main landing gear still extended. As soon as the aircraft came to rest the Flight Engineer, having closed the mixture controls to idle cut off and pulled the 'ganged switches' bar, left the aircraft through the right front exit door. On seeing exhaust fires in Nos. 2 and 3 engines he returned to the flight deck and carried out the appropriate engine fire drills. However Nor 3 engine continued to burn, and he extinguished this fire with a portable CO2 appliance.
During this period, evacuation drills were initiated, and the passengers left the aircraft in an expeditious and reasonably orderly manner, mostly through the front exit, but some by chute from the rear exit, and a few from an overwing emergency exit.
The aircraft was sold to Air Facilities following the mishap and scrapped.


PROBABLE CAUSE: "The accident was caused by the Flight Engineer's action in selecting landing gear UP before the aircraft was airborne . He did this in the mistaken belief that the Captain had ordered him to do so ."

Sources:

Official accident investigation report
investigating agency: Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) - U.K.
report status: Final
report number: AAIB AAR 6/1976
download report: Douglas DC6B, OO-VGB. Report on the accident at Southend Municipal Airport, Essex, on 4 October 1974 (AAIB AAR 6/1976)
cover

Photos

photo of Douglas DC-6B OO-VGB
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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 Southend Municipal Airport to Antwerpen-Deurne Airport as the crow flies is 263 km (164 miles).

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