Loss of control Accident Boeing 707-121 N712PA,
ASN logo

Date:Tuesday 3 February 1959
Type:Silhouette image of generic B701 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Boeing 707-121
Owner/operator:Pan American World Airways (Pan Am)
Registration: N712PA
MSN: 17591/6
Year of manufacture:1958
Total airframe hrs:705 hours
Engine model:Pratt & Whitney JT3C-6
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 129
Aircraft damage: Substantial, repaired
Location:over Atlantic Ocean -   Atlantic Ocean
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:London-Heathrow Airport (LHR/EGLL)
Destination airport:Gander Airport, NL (YQX/CYQX)
Investigating agency: CAB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Pan American Flight 115 was a scheduled flight between Paris, France, and New York, USA with intermediate stops planned at London, England, and Gander, Canada.
The aircraft was flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet in smooth air with the autopilot engaged when the captain left the cockpit and entered the main cabin. During his absence the autopilot disengaged and the aircraft smoothly and slowly entered a steep descending spiral. The copilot was not properly monitoring the aircraft's instruments or the progress of the flight and was unaware of the actions of the aircraft until considerable speed had been gained and altitude lost. During the rapid descent the copilot was unable to effect recovery. When the captain became aware of the unusual attitude of the aircraft he returned to the cockpit and with the aid of the other crew members was finally able to regain control of the aircraft. Recovery was made at an altitude of approximately 6,000 feet.
Following recovery the aircraft was flown to Gander, Newfoundland, where a safe landing was made.

Probable Cause:
The Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the inattention of the copilot to the progress of the flight, during the absence of the captain from the cockpit, following the involuntary disengagement of the autopilot. Contributing
factors were the autopilot disengage warning light in the dim position and the Mach trim switch in the "off"-position.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: CAB
Report number: File 1-006
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 9 months
Download report: Final report


Revision history:


The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2024 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314