ASN Aircraft accident Douglas C-54A-1-DO (DC-4) D-ALAF Düsseldorf Airport (DUS)
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Sunday 3 November 1957
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC4 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas C-54A-1-DO (DC-4)
Operator:Karl Herfurtner Düsseldorf
Registration: D-ALAF
MSN: 7459
First flight: 1944
Crew:Fatalities: / Occupants: 7
Passengers:Fatalities: / Occupants: 3
Total:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 10
Ground casualties:Fatalities: 1
Aircraft damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:4,5 km (2.8 mls) S of Düsseldorf Airport (DUS) (   Germany)
Phase: Initial climb (ICL)
Nature:Int'l Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Düsseldorf Airport (DUS/EDDL), Germany
Destination airport:Reykjavík Domestic Airport (RKV/BIRK), Iceland
The DC-4 aircraft was to be ferried from Düsseldorf to New York with a refueling stop at Reykjavik. The aircraft took off at 07:00. Immediately after becoming airborne the no. 1 engine was cut off and the prop feathered. Then the no. 2 engine was also cut off and the propeller feathered. During this process the flaps were immediately and fully retracted. The aircraft had reached an altitude of 50 m, but dropped sharply, lost altitude and crashed into a residential area. It appeared that the captain of the flight (also Karl Herfurtner's Chief Pilot) had planned to test a pilot on this flight. Witnesses heard by the investigation commission stated that the chief pilot often brought about dangerous situations in flight with a view of emergency drills a.o. On these occasions he would cut off an engine and feather the propeller, frequently even during takeoff and when carrying passengers.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The intentional creation of an emergency situation on takeoff for a long distance flight: first No.1 engine was cut off and its propeller feathered, then No.2 engine was also stopped and its propeller feathered. In addition, the flaps were immediately and fully retracted at low altitude. Such action by the pilot-in-command during takeoff immediately after the aircraft became airborne, with a view to testing a crew member, caused the aircraft to crash. The piloting technique was not consistent with the safety requirements and operating instructions as prescribed by the Directorate of Civil Aviation."

» ICAO Accident Digest No.9, Circular 56-AN/51 (206-210)


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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 Düsseldorf Airport to Reykjavík Domestic Airport as the crow flies is 2175 km (1359 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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