ASN Aircraft accident Douglas DC-8-55F PH-MBH Maskeliya
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Wednesday 4 December 1974
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC85 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Douglas DC-8-55F
Operator:Martinair Holland
Registration: PH-MBH
MSN: 45818/242
First flight: 1966
Total airframe hrs:35613
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT3D-3B
Crew:Fatalities: 9 / Occupants: 9
Passengers:Fatalities: 182 / Occupants: 182
Total:Fatalities: 191 / Occupants: 191
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Maskeliya (   Sri Lanka)
Crash site elevation: 1327 m (4354 feet) amsl
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Int'l Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Surabaya-Juanda Airport (SUB/WARR), Indonesia
Destination airport:Colombo-Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB/VCBI), Sri Lanka
The aircraft departed Surabaya at 12:03 UTC for a hadj flight to Jeddah with a planned intermediate stop at Colombo. Around 16:30 UTC Colombo Control cleared the flight down from FL350 to FL150. At 16:38, when the flight was 50 nm from Colombo the air traffic controller cleared the flight further down to 5000 feet and to report reaching 8000 feet. At 16:44 Colombo Approach Control then cleared the flight down to 2000 feet and told them to expect a runway 04 approach. The crew were then to report overhead the KAT NDB or when the airfield was in sight. The crew continued their descent until the airplane crashed into the Anjimalai Mountain at an altitude of 4355 feet, about 40 nm East of Colombo.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "Collision with rising terrain as the crew descended the aircraft below safe altitude owing to incorrect identification of their position vis-a-vis the airport. The investigation is of the opinion that this was the result of dependence on Doppler and Weather Radar Systems on board PH-MBH which left room for misinterpretation."

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: DCA Sri Lanka
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 194 days (6 months)
Download report: Final report


Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain

» ICAO Circular 132-AN/93 (213-245)


photo of Douglas-DC-8-55F-PH-MBH
accident date: 04-12-1974
type: Douglas DC-8-55F
registration: PH-MBH
photo of DC-8-55F-PH-MBH
accident date: 04-12-1974
type: McDonnell Douglas DC-8-55F
registration: PH-MBH

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 Surabaya-Juanda Airport to Colombo-Bandaranaike International Airport as the crow flies is 3976 km (2485 miles).
Accident location: Exact; as reported in the official accident report.

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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