1958 London Vickers Viking accident
A Vickers Viking similar to the crash aircraft
|Date||2 September 1958|
|Summary||Pilot error following engine failure|
|Fatalities||7 (4 on ground)|
|Aircraft type||Vickers VC.1 Viking|
|Operator||Independent Air Travel|
|Flight origin||London Heathrow Airport|
The London Vickers Viking accident occurred on 2 September 1958 when an Independent Air Travel Vickers VC.1 Viking (registration G-AIJE), loaded with two Bristol Proteus turboprop engines as cargo, and with three crew members aboard, attempted a flight from London Heathrow Airport to Tel Aviv via Nice, Brindisi and Athens.
The aircraft took off from Heathrow at 05:54 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) but 15 minutes after take off the flight crew reported engine problems and requested a return to Blackbushe Airport. The crew was cleared by Air Traffic Control to descend to 3000 feet, but they could not maintain this altitude, and continued descending. A Mayday call was made from the aircraft at 0632 GMT, shortly before crashing into a row of houses on Kelvin Gardens, Southall. The aircraft burst into flames on impact killing all three crew and four people, a mother and three children, on the ground. Witnesses reported that they saw one of the crew waving outside of the aircraft just before the aircraft crashed.
The probable cause of the accident was that "The aircraft was allowed to lose height and flying speed with the result that the pilot was no longer able to exercise asymmetric control." While the reasons for the loss of power and the subsequent loss of height and speed were not known, the Public inquiry investigating the accident found a number of serious flaws in the running of Independent Air Travel and the maintenance of the aircraft. Maintenance had been carried out on one of the aircraft propellers at Heathrow on the night before the accident by personnel who were not qualified to carry out the work. The aircraft was overloaded, and the pilot had not had adequate rest, having effectively been on duty for 31 hours 30 minutes compared with the 16 hours required by the regulations (This took advantage of a loophole in regulations that allowed crew to carry out flights during "rest" hours if no passengers or cargo was carried.). Check flights, which should have tested the pilot's ability to handle the aircraft at high weights and with one engine out were "perfunctory" and did not adequately prove the pilot's ability to handle the aircraft with one engine failed.
The report stated that "It is quite clear...that the policy of this company was to keep its aircraft in the air at all costs and without any real regard for the requirements of maintenance." and that "it is not difficult for employers who are not unduly concerned to observe the regulations, to drive their employees and . . . to induce them to disregard the regulations designed to ensure safety in the air."
- Flight 21 August 1959, p.51.
- Aviation Safety Network.
- British Pathe newsreel, 4 September 1958.
- Flight 28 August 1959, p.91.
- "Morning Disaster". British Pathe. 4 September 1958. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
- "Air Commerce: The Southall Accident: Report of the Public Inquiry". Flight, 21 August 1959, p. 58.
- "Air Commerce: Southall: The Aftermath". Flight, 28 August 1959. p. 91.
- Vickers 621 Viking 1 G-AIJE London Airport (LHR). Aviation Safety Network. 15 April 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2010.