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Last updated: 27 May 2020
Status:Final
Date:Tuesday 2 January 1973
Time:01:34
Type:Silhouette image of generic B703 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing 707-321C
Operator:Pacific Western Airlines
Registration: CF-PWZ
C/n / msn: 18826/389
First flight: 1964
Total airframe hrs:33059
Cycles:9458
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT3D-3B
Crew:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:ca 3 km SE of Edmonton International Airport, AB (YEG) (   Canada)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Cargo
Departure airport:Toronto International Airport, ON (YYZ/CYYZ), Canada
Destination airport:Edmonton International Airport, AB (YEG/CYEG), Canada
Flightnumber:3801
Narrative:
On the ground at Toronto cattle pens were installed and a cargo of 86 cattle was loaded. The Boeing 707 took off at 04:47 GMT for a flight to Edmonton. The en route part of the flight was uneventful. At 08:29 the flight was cleared for a straight in back-course ILS approach to runway 29. The first officer, who had just been promoted to Boeing 707 operations, was to perform the approach in blowing snow conditions. This approach was the first one after a 6-week holiday, so he lacked recent Boeing 707-experience. With the added factors of fatigue, turbulent air, and a heavily loaded aircraft the situation would have become extremely difficult. At some point late in the approach the captain took over control of the aircraft and tried to arrest the sink rate. The plane contacted poplar trees, 3137 m short of the runway. It struck the ground a glancing blow, and the tail fin struck powerlines. The aircraft finally struck a large ridge in the middle of a gravel pit. The cockpit section and a forward portion of the fuselage broke away and 86 cattle, the cargo on board, shot forward through the open front section of the fuselage and were thrown a distance of up to 100 m. A fire erupted.

Probable Cause:

Summary
The combination of circumstances leading to this accident were such that the margins of operating safety were seriously compromised by the time the aircraft entered the final stages of its approach which was being made in difficult weather conditions and without glidslope guidance to the runway in use.
The flight crew members being fatigued, would have found it difficult to concentrate fully on the task at hand without any added difficulty of having their attention diverted by some untoward event.
This probably applied particularly in the case of the Captain whose primary function at this stage of the flight was to closely monitor the First Officer's handling of the aircraft. However, if an interruption to the essential electrical system had occurred he probably would have divided his attention between monitoring the First Officer's and the Flight Engineer's activities.
And so, at the most vital stage of the approach, the First Officer, inexperienced as he was wlth the aircraft type and its equipment, may have been left to cope with the approach which was probably beyond his capabilities. With the added factors of fatigue, turbulent air, and a heavily loaded aircraft the situation would have become extremely difficult.
In these circumstances, if the Captain's attention had been momentarily distracted, control of the aircraft would have been jeopardized at an altitude too low to effect recovery.

Classification:

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Ground

Photos

photo of Boeing-707-321C-CF-PWZ
accident date: 02-01-1973
type: Boeing 707-321C
registration: CF-PWZ
photo of Boeing-707-321C-CF-PWZ
accident date: 02-01-1973
type: Boeing 707-321C
registration: CF-PWZ
photo of Boeing-707-321C-CF-PWZ
accident date: 02-01-1973
type: Boeing 707-321C
registration: CF-PWZ
photo of Boeing-707-321C-CF-PWZ
accident date: 02-01-1973
type: Boeing 707-321C
registration: CF-PWZ
photo of Boeing-707-321C-CF-PWZ
accident date: 02-01-1973
type: Boeing 707-321C
registration: CF-PWZ
photo of Boeing-707-321C-CF-PWZ
accident date: 02-01-1973
type: Boeing 707-321C
registration: CF-PWZ
photo of Boeing-707-321C-CF-PWZ
accident date: 02-01-1973
type: Boeing 707-321C
registration: CF-PWZ
photo of Boeing-707-321C-CF-PWZ
accident date: 02-01-1973
type: Boeing 707-321C
registration: CF-PWZ
photo of Boeing-707-321C-CF-PWZ
accident date: 02-01-1973
type: Boeing 707-321C
registration: CF-PWZ
 

Map
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 Toronto International Airport, ON to Edmonton International Airport, AB as the crow flies is 2670 km (1669 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

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Boeing 707

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  • 40th loss
  • 28th fatal accident
  • 20th worst accident (at the time)
  • 53rd worst accident (currently)
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 Canada
  • 48th worst accident (at the time)
  • 81st worst accident (currently)
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