Narrative:Varig flight RG797 was a scheduled service from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The flight was carried out by a Boeing 707-379C, PP-VJK. This was to be the last flight in Varig service as the aircraft had been sold to the Brazilian Air Force.
On the flight to Abidjan there had been an indication of a fire in engine no.1. Air Afrique engineers at Abidjan concluded this was a false warning.
Some twenty minutes after takeoff on the return leg to Brazil, the engine no.1 fire warning again sounded. The captain decided to return Abidjan to have the engine checked out. The engineer then stated that the engine's fuel temperature was too high. It was decided to shut down the no.1 engine.
As the aircraft was descending towards Abidjan, the engineer stated that there was a fuel leak. As the flight progressed, it was cleared to land on runway 03, which was the shortest distance away for flight 797. Although it was a dark, moonless night, visibility was good. Nevertheless, the captain requested runway 21 for landing since this runway had ILS available for landing. This approach procedure called for a 270 degree left hand turn after passing the VOR. The crew choose to fly the turn with landing gear still retracted and without flaps and configure the aircraft for landing after completing the turn.
While in the turn the airspeed decreased to stall speed. The stall warning and bank angle alarms sounded. Without any visual cues outside, the captain lost spatial awareness. The aircraft had rolled 90 degrees to the left and entered a dive. It impacted thick trees of the equatorial forest and burst into flames.
Loss of control
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 Abidjan-Felix Houphouet Boigny Airport to Rio de Janeiro-Galećo International Airport, RJ as the crow flies is 5264 km (3290 miles).
This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Networks opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.