British European Airways Flight 706

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British European Airways Flight 706
Bea vickers vanguard g-apec arp.jpg

Vickers Vanguard G-APEC at London Heathrow Airport

Accident summary
Accident type Structural failure due to corrosion
place 1 km east of Aarsele, Belgium
date 2nd October 1971
Fatalities 63
Survivors 0
Injured on the ground 1
Aircraft type Vickers 951 Vanguard
operator British European Airways
Passengers 55
crew 8th
Lists of aviation accidents

On October 2, 1971, a Vickers Vanguard crashed over Belgium on British European Airways Flight 706 . All 63 people on board were killed. The crash of the twelve-year-old machine was caused by corrosion- related damage to the rear pressure bulkhead .

the accident

The four-engine British European Airways (BEA) took off at 09:34 a.m. (UTC) from runway 28L at London-Heathrow Airport in the direction of Salzburg . At 10:04 a.m. the aircraft was at its cruising altitude of 5790 meters (19,000 feet ) over Belgium and passed the rotating radio beacon (VOR) Wulpen. Almost five minutes later, at 10:09:46 am, air traffic control in Brussels-Zaventem received an emergency call from the crew ( “we are going down, 706, we are going down” ). Seconds later, several Mayday calls followed, with the voices of two crew members being heard at the same time, as well as messages that the aircraft was crashing vertically and was out of control ( “we are going down vertically” and “out of control” ). The air traffic controllers heard simultaneously by radio swelling of the four Rolls-Royce -Turboprops. According to eyewitnesses, the machine fell nose first like a stone from the sky, rotating slowly around its longitudinal axis . The plane hit a field at 10:10:40 a.m. and left a six-meter-deep crater in the ground. The more than 11 tons of kerosene caused a wildfire. All 63 people on board were killed. Among them were the Austrian legal philosopher René Marcic and his wife Blanca Marcic. The passenger of a car driving past the crash site was injured by a piece of debris flying around.

Cause of accident

The crash was due to the demolition of both elevator surfaces, which made it impossible to control the machine. Both fins of the tail unit and the elevators attached to them were found some distance from the crash site. The reason for the structural failure was a rust perforation on the lower part of the rear pressure bulkhead of the cabin . During the flight, the corroded area gave way, so that the pressurized cabin air suddenly flowed through a 48 cm hole into the tail unit area and deformed its shell. As a result of the deformation and the internal damage, the horizontal stabilizer separated from the fuselage on both sides, as a result of which the machine immediately tilted over the nose and went into an almost vertical nosedive. The corrosion of the pressure bulkhead was probably caused by leaked liquids from the adjacent on- board toilet . An immediate check of all of the BEA's Vickers Vanguards revealed similar rust on eight other machines. As a consequence, the accessibility to this fuselage area has been improved and the maintenance frequency increased.


Similar aviation accidents

As a result of corrosion and / or material fatigue, there were also accidents:

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Accident report of the Belgian Civil Aeronautics Administration from August 1972 (English pdf 7.8 MB) ( Archive ( Memento from May 19, 2014 on WebCite ))
  2. a b Aviation Catastrophes, D. Gero, Stuttgart 1994
  3. Flight accident data and report of BEA flight 706 in the Aviation Safety Network (English)

Coordinates: 50 ° 59 ′ 26.8 "  N , 3 ° 26 ′ 19.7"  E