Accident Vickers 951 Vanguard G-APEC,
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Date:Saturday 2 October 1971
Type:Silhouette image of generic vang model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Vickers 951 Vanguard
Owner/operator:British European Airways - BEA
Registration: G-APEC
MSN: 706
Year of manufacture:1959
Total airframe hrs:21683 hours
Cycles:17261 flights
Engine model:Rolls-Royce Tyne 506
Fatalities:Fatalities: 63 / Occupants: 63
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:1 km E of Aarsele -   Belgium
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:London-Heathrow Airport (LHR/EGLL)
Destination airport:Salzburg-W. A. Mozart Airport (SZG/LOWS)
Investigating agency: AIB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
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 upper tailplane skin attachments. The tail surfaces subsequently detached, causing the airplane to enter a steep dive. The Vanguard spiraled down out of control and crashed in a field next to a highway.
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."

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: AIB
Report number: AAR 15/1972
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 10 months
Download report: Final report


Applying Lessons Learned From Accidents : Accident/Incident Summary Japan Airlines Flight 123, Boeing 747, Gunma Prefecture Japan



photo (c) Adrian Pingstone; London-Heathrow Airport (LHR/EGLL); 1965

Revision history:


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