Air France Flight 1611
A Caravelle similar to the one that crashed
|Date||11 September 1968|
|Summary||Alleged Airliner shot down, missile attack|
|Site||Mediterranean Sea |
|Aircraft type||Sud Aviation|
SE-210 Caravelle III
|Flight origin||Ajaccio-Campo Dell'Oro Airport|
|Destination||Nice (Aéroport de Nice-Côte d'Azur)|
Air France Flight 1611 (AF1611) was a Sud Aviation SE-210 Caravelle III en route from the island of Corsica to Nice, France, on 11 September 1968 when it crashed into the Mediterranean Sea off Nice, killing all 95 on board. According to the official report, the crash was non-survivable. The crash is the deadliest aviation incident in the Mediterranean Sea to date.
Among the dead was French general René Cogny.
The probable cause was attributed to a fire which originated in the rear of the cabin.
A radio programme broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on 26 November 2007 advanced the theory that the accident was the result of a missile strike or bomb, and that the true cause has been suppressed by the French Government under secrecy laws.
On 10 May 2011 Michel Laty, a former army typist, alleged on French television channel TF1 that he saw a report indicating a missile, misfired by the French army during a weapon test, in fact caused the crash.
A 2019 article in The Guardian newspaper reported that after the crash, documents and photographs about it disappeared. The 11 September page in the log book for Le Suffren, a French Navy missile frigate in the area, was torn out. The aircraft's black box flight recorder was said to have been damaged, with the recording of flight AF1611 unreadable, although earlier flights were recorded. Wreckage recovered was seized by France's military. An investigation was started in 2011 by gendarmes, and in September 2019 the theory that a fire had started in a toilet was disproved. A family member of one of those killed said "The investigating judge has said he is practically certain to almost 100% that the plane was hit by a missile. Now we are waiting". French president Emmanuel Macron wrote to a victim's family saying that he hoped the affair would be declassified, and that he had asked the armed forces minister to begin the process of releasing documents related to the crash.
Official report from French transport ministry
In December 1972 BEA, the French air accident investigation bureau, published its official report. This rejected the suggestion of any missile strike, basing its findings on the aircraft's survival time after the pilot's initial report to air traffic control of a fire on board, the examination of the wreckage recovered from the seabed, knowledge of a similar accidental fire in another Sud Aviation Caravelle and the declaration by the French defence ministry that there were no surface ships in the area capable of launching missiles. The report surmised that the loss of the aircraft had been caused by a fire in the passenger toilet caused either by a defective water heater or a cigarette discarded in a waste bin.
- "ASN Aircraft accident Sud Aviation SE-210 Caravelle III F-BOHB Nice, France". Aviation Safety Network. 18 July 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
- Benard, R. (14 December 1972). "Rapport Final sur l'accident survenu le 11 septembre 1968 au large de cap d'Antibes" [Final Report on the accident on 11 September 1968 off Cap d'Antibes] (PDF). Journal Officiel de la République Française (in French). 1972 (30): 952–954.
- "TV documentary reveals that military missile did kill 95 people". The Riveria Times. 12 May 2011. Archived from the original on 4 September 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
- "Crash Antibes/1968: Michel Laty, témoin capital, est mort" [Crash Antibes/1968: Michel Laty, principal witness, is dead]. Syndicat National du Personnel Navigant Commercial (in French). AFP and others. 16 December 2011.
- Willsher, Kim (10 September 2019). "'We need to hear it': families' 51-year wait for truth about French plane crash". The Guardian.
- BBC Radio 4 Programme notes
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
- (in French) Official report by the inquiry board of the French ministry of transportation (Archive)
- (in English) More details about this crash, subsequent investigation, and the mysteries that surround it: The Other 9/11