Accident Douglas DC-8-53 PH-DCL,
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Date:Tuesday 30 May 1961
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC85 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Douglas DC-8-53
Registration: PH-DCL
MSN: 45615/131
Year of manufacture:1961
Total airframe hrs:209 hours
Cycles:82 flights
Engine model:Pratt & Whitney JT3D-1
Fatalities:Fatalities: 61 / Occupants: 61
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:3 km WNW off Fonte da Telha -   Portugal
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:Lisboa-Portela de Sacavém Airport (LIS/LPPT)
Destination airport:Santa Maria-Vila do Porto Airport, Azores (SMA/LPAZ)
Investigating agency: DGAC Portugal
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
VIASA Flight 897 operated on the route Rome - Madrid (MAD) - Lisbon (LIS) - Santa Maria (SMA) - Caracas (CCS) when it landed at Lisbon at 00:06 UTC. Following a crew change and inspection by KLM maintenance personnel the flight was cleared for a runway 23 departure. The DC-8 took off at 01:15, heading to the Capiraca (LS) NDB. At 01:18:37 the flight advised that the cloud base was at 3700 ft and changed to the Lisbon area control frequency. It reported again at 01:19:25 to Lisbon Control that it was "over LS at 19 climbing through FL 60". This message ended with two quickly spoken sentences. This was the last radio contact with the flight. The DC-8 entered a spiral dive to the left during the last message, banking to the left to 90° within about 20 seconds and striking the water after another 15 seconds. During the last 15 seconds, the bank was overcorrected to the right. It struck the sea with a pitch angle of approximately 25° nose down, while it was probably banking 30° to the right.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "Notwithstanding a very thorough, time-consuming investigation, in which many authorities and experts co-operated, it was not possible to establish a probable cause of the accident."

The Netherlands, as state of registry, commented: "Though there are no direct indications in this respect, the Board regards it as possible that the accident was due to the pilot or pilots being misled by instrument failure, in particular of the artificial horizon, or to the pilot having been distracted, so that a serious deviation from the normal flight path was not discovered in time."

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: DGAC Portugal
Report number: Final report
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 9 months
Download report: Final report


ICAO Circular 69-AN/61


Revision history:


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