Accident description
Last updated: 21 October 2014
Status:Final
Date:Wednesday 15 November 1978
Time:23:30
Type:McDonnell Douglas DC-8-63CF
Operator:Loftleidir
Registration: TF-FLA
C/n / msn: 46020/415
First flight: 1968
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT3D-
Crew:Fatalities: 8 / Occupants: 13
Passengers:Fatalities: 175 / Occupants: 249
Total:Fatalities: 183 / Occupants: 262
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:2,1 km (1.3 mls) from Colombo-Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) (   Sri Lanka) show on map
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Int'l Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED/OEJN), Saudi Arabia
Destination airport:Colombo-Katunayake International Airport (CMB/VCBI), Sri Lanka
Flightnumber: 001
Narrative:
Icelandic Airlines Flight LL 001, a DC-8-63CF (TF-FLA) which was being operated as a charter passenger flight, took-off from Jeddah Airport (JED), Saudi Arabia, at approximately 12.58 UTC to proceed to Surabaya, Indonesia, with a programmed technical stop at Colombo-Katunayake International Airport (CMB), Sri Lanka, for fuel and crew change.
The aircraft had been chartered by Garuda Indonesian Airways to carry Indonesian "Haj" pilgrims from Indonesia to Mecca and return.
The aircraft contacted Area Control, Ratmalana, at 22:53 local time and was informed that the runway in use was 04. The aircraft requested runway 22 and accordingly was cleared for a radar vectored ILS approach to runway 22. Area Control who was in contact with the aircraft initially descended the aircraft from FL330 to FL220 approximately 90 miles out of Colombo Airport. The aircraft was handed over at 23:06 to the Radar Control. The flight was cleared to descend to FL 20 and to carry out an ILS approach to runway 22. The Radar Controller also requested the aircraft to report when it was established on the Localizer, but, though the request was acknowledged, no confirmation was received. The Radar Controller continued to give advisory information on the aircraft's distance and height, the last advisory call being at 23:27:26 when the aircraft was informed thus: " Lima, Lima 001, slightly to the left of centre line, very slightly to the left of centre line, two miles from touch-down, height 650 feet, cleared to land-off this approach."
This transmission was acknowledged by the aircraft at 23:27:37. Shortly thereafter, the Approach Controller sighted the aircraft very low on the approach and called out twice "Lima, Lima 001, you are undershooting". However, this transmission was not received by the aircraft as the Approach Controller spoke on the approach frequency 119.7 MHz whereas the aircraft was still tuned to the Radar Controller on 119.1 MHz. The Approach Controller observed the aircraft disappearing from sight followed by what appeared to be a ball of fire around the area where it passed out of sight. The aircraft had crashed into a rubber and coconut plantation at a point 1.16 n.m. from runway 22 threshold, 103 feet to the right of the extended centre line of the runway. The aircraft was destroyed by impact and fire.


PROBABLE CAUSE: "The flight crew's failure to conform with the laid down approach procedures. They failed to check and utilise all instruments available for altitude and descent rate awareness. The co-pilot failed to provide the captain with the required altitude and sink rate call outs at various levels. The sink rate was very excessive during most of the descent.
The captain failed to initiate a missed approach procedure at the appropriate height when the runway was not visible. When he commenced the overshoot, the aircraft had already descended too low."
The Icelandic Directorate of Civil Aviation, however blamed the accident on inadequate maintenance of ILS facilities, which caused a downward bending of the glideslope into the ground. Erroneous information supplied by the radar controller and the lack of an operational approach lighting system at Bandaranaike were contributing factors.

Classification:

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Ground

Sources:
» Aviation Disasters / D. Gero
» Flight International 25.11.1978 (1920)

Official accident investigation report
investigating agency: Sri Lanka Commission of Inquiry - Sri Lanka
report status: Final
report number:
report released:30-OCT-1979
duration of investigation:349 days (11.6 months)
download report: Report into the causes and circumstances in which Loftleidir Icelandic Airways Aircraft DC-8-63F TF-FLA met with an accident in the vicinity of the Katunayake Airport on 15th November, 1978 (Sri Lanka Commission of Inquiry )

Photos

photo of McDonnell Douglas DC-8-63CF TF-FLA
TF-FLA finally returned to Loftleidir March 1978
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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 Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport to Colombo-Katunayake International Airport as the crow flies is 4624 km (2890 miles).

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