1973 Nantes mid-air collision

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Iberia Flight 504
Spantax Flight 400
Date 5 March 1973
Summary Mid-air collision caused by ATC error
Site Nantes, France
Total fatalities 68
Total survivors 107
First aircraft
Iberia DC-9-32; EC-BIM, August 1968 ALG (5127275604).jpg
An Iberia DC-9-32, sister aircraft to the one involved

McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32

Operator Iberia
Registration EC-BII
Flight origin Palma de Mallorca Airport
Destination London Heathrow Airport
London, United Kingdom
Passengers 61
Crew 7
Fatalities 68 (all)
Survivors 0
Second aircraft
Spantax CV-990 at Basle - June 1976.jpg
A Spantax CV-990 similar to the one involved in the accident
Type Convair 990 Coronado[1]
Operator Spantax
Registration EC-BJC
Flight origin Madrid-Barajas Airport
Destination London Heathrow Airport
London, United Kingdom
Passengers 99
Crew 8
Fatalities 0
Survivors 107 (all)

The 1973 Nantes mid-air collision occurred when two airliners hit each other over Nantes, France on 5 March 1973. They were an Iberia McDonnell Douglas DC-9 flying from Palma de Mallorca to London and a Spantax Convair 990 from Madrid to London. All 68 people on board the DC-9 were killed. The CV-990 was able to make a successful emergency landing at Cognac – Châteaubernard Air Base.[1]


Iberia flight 504, a scheduled service from Palma de Mallorca and Spantax flight BX400, a charter flight from Madrid, were both traversing France en route to Heathrow airport in London, guided by French military Air Traffic Control as the country's civilian air traffic controllers were on strike.[3] The Iberia DC9 was due to reach the Nantes VOR point at 12:52 at flight level 290 (29,000 feet) and the Spantax Convair CV-990 was scheduled to reach it at 13:00 at the same level. Both aircraft had received instructions from Marina sector Air Traffic Control at the French Air Force base in Mont-de-Marsan, who asked them to contact Menhir sector ATC at the French Air Force base in Brest. The Spantax aircraft was on the boundary between the sectors and had difficulty hearing Marina ATC, also receiving no reply to two requests to circle to avoid arriving at the Nantes VOR before 13:00 GMT. The crew decided to start the manoeuvre without ATC authorisation and while in cloud collided with the Iberia DC-9 at 12:52 GMT. The DC-9 lost control and crashed into the ground. The CV-990 managed to land at Cognac – Châteaubernard Air Base with damage to its left wing.[4]

All 61 passengers and 7 crew of the Iberia flight were killed including Michael Jeffery, the former manager of Jimi Hendrix.[5] No-one aboard the Spantax flight was harmed.


The accident was investigated by French air accident body, the Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la Sécurité de l'Aviation Civile. Its report identified difficulties in communication between the flight crew of the Convair CV-990 and air traffic control as well as procedural errors from both parties. The crew's unilateral decision to turn the aircraft brought it into the path of the DC-9. ATC had assumed a time-based separation of the two aircraft at the same flight level.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "ASN Aircraft accident Convair CV-990-30A-5 Coronado EC-BJC La Plance, near Nantes". Aviation-safety.net. 1973-03-05. Retrieved 2014-08-18.
  2. ^ "EC-BII Iberia McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 - cn 47077 / ln 148 - Planespotters.net Just Aviation". Planespotters.net. Retrieved 2014-08-18.
  3. ^ "1973: Mid-air collision kills 68". BBC news. BBC. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  4. ^ Simpson, Paul (2014). The Mammoth Book of Air Disasters and Near Misses. London: Hachette UK. p. 60. ISBN 9781780338293. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  5. ^ Leblanc, Larry (27 February 2010). "Re-experiencing Jimi Hendrix". Toronto Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail Inc. Retrieved 26 February 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°00′58″N 1°26′03″W / 47.0161°N 1.4343°W / 47.0161; -1.4343