Accident description
Last updated: 1 October 2014
Status:Final
Date:Sunday 11 December 1977
Time:11:20
Type:Lockheed P-3B-80-LO Orion
Operator:United States Navy
Registration: 153428
C/n / msn: 185-5225
First flight: 1967
Crew:Fatalities: 13 / Occupants: 13
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 13 / Occupants: 13
Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:Hierro, Canary Islands (   Spain) show on map
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Military
Departure airport:Terceira-Lajes AFB, Azores (TER/LPLA), Portugal
Destination airport:Terceira-Lajes AFB, Azores (TER/LPLA), Portugal
Narrative:
The P-3 Orion aircraft departed at 08:36 on a ship surveillance mission. Approximately two hours after takeoff the aircraft reported all systems essential to the mission were operating normally. No further radio contact was made. At 11:20 the aircraft struck a mountain at an altitude of 2300 ft msl. The top of the mountain was at 5200 ft msl. Visibility at the crash site was 50 meters in rain. The aircraft impacted in level flight at 220 knots. All engines were operating, except for #1, which was shutdown for loiter.
The PPC, navigator, radar operator and flight engineer were at the NCO club until 02:00 local, consuming alcoholic beverages. The post mortem showed that the navigator had experienced a myocardial infarction. The island was located inside the northwest corner of the assigned patrol area. It is very possible that the crew was unaware of the island.


PROBABLE CAUSE FACTORS:
Flight crew - violation of natops regarding alcohol consumption/crew rest prior to flight.
Supervisory/squadron - failure to implement an effective aircrew surveillance program.

CONTRIBUTORY FACTOR:
Flight crew complacency - nonadherence to sound navigation procedures.

POSSIBLE CAUSE FACTOR:
TSC briefing display omission of the three Canary Islands.
Weather conditions - fog and rain.

Classification:
Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain

Sources:
» Brunswick Times Record December 12, 1977
» P-3 Orion Aircraft Location Report (P-3 Orion Research Group - The Netherlands)
» US Crashes 1950-2002 / Jan van Waarde
» US Navy and US Marine Corps Aircraft Serial Numbers and Bureau Numbers--1911 to Present / Joe Baugher
» VPNavy.org


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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 Terceira-Lajes AFB, Azores to Terceira-Lajes AFB, Azores as the crow flies is 0 km (0 miles).

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