1948 Australian National Airways DC-3 crash

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1948 Australian National Airways DC-3 crash
VH-ABR, a Douglas DC-3-232A originally built for Australian National Airways in 1938.
Accident summary
Date 2 September 1948
Summary CFIT
Site Near Nundle, New South Wales, Australia
31°30′40″S 150°55′59″E / 31.511°S 150.933°E / -31.511; 150.933Coordinates: 31°30′40″S 150°55′59″E / 31.511°S 150.933°E / -31.511; 150.933
Passengers 10
Crew 3
Fatalities 13
Survivors 0
Aircraft type Douglas DC-3C-SIC3G
Aircraft name Lutana
Operator Australian National Airways
Registration VH-ANK (c/n 9999)
Flight origin Brisbane, Queensland
Destination Sydney, New South Wales

The 1948 Lutana crash occurred on 2 September 1948 near Nundle, New South Wales, Australia, when the Lutana, a Douglas DC-3 operated by Australian National Airways, crashed into high terrain en route from Brisbane to Sydney, killing all 13 on board. A judicial enquiry by a Supreme Court Judge determined that the crash was caused by errors in radio navigation equipment used by the pilot to navigate the route from Brisbane to Sydney.

One of the passengers was Margaret McIntyre, the first woman elected to the Parliament of Tasmania.


On 2 September 1948, the Lutana departed Brisbane's airport on a scheduled flight to Sydney. About 280 nautical miles (520 km) south of Brisbane it crashed into rising terrain in the North West Slopes of Australia's Great Dividing Range, due to an erroneously determined position based on errors in the navigational equipment the pilots relied upon for determining a safe course through the rising terrain.[1][2]


An Air Court of Inquiry was conducted by Judge William Simpson of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, and two assessors, E. J. Bowen, Sci. D, PhD; and Captain L. M. Diprose, chief pilot of Associated Airlines, nominated by the Australian Pilots Association.[3] The inquiry report, released 17 November 1948, found the pilot, Captain J. A. Drummond, to be a "pilot of more than ordinary ability," and led to a reorganisation of the Department's system of air traffic control. The inquiry found that the probable cause of the crash was interference with the aeroplane's magnetic compass due to a nearby electrical storm and a defect in the navigational signals sent by the Government-maintained Kempsey low-frequency radio range station, an important navigational aid to flights in the area. The inquiry also identified errors and deficiencies in the aeronautical charts used to navigate the mountainous area.[2][4]

Australia's then Air Minister, Arthur Drakeford, objected to the findings of the inquiry, stating that the lack of definitive evidence in the report rendered its findings "inconclusive," and that the assertion that the Kempsey range station malfunctioned was "difficult to believe."[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "AIRLINER FROM BRISBANE MISSING" The Sydney Morning Herald – 3 September 1948, p.1 (National Library of Australia) Retrieved 6 July 2015
  2. ^ a b c "Court Says Directional Aids Misled Lutana's Pilot" The Argus – 25 November 1948, p.7 (National Library of Australia) Retrieved 6 July 2015
  3. ^ Job 1992, p. 74
  4. ^ Job 1992, p. 76


  • Job, Macarthur (1992). Air Crash Vol. 2, Chapter 5. Aerospace Publications Pty. Ltd.  Fyshwick, Australia. pp. 200. ISBN 1-875671-01-3