Iberia Airlines Flight 610
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An Iberia Boeing 727-200 similar to the one involved
|Date||19 February 1985|
|Summary||Controlled flight into terrain due to pilot error|
Mount Oiz, Biscay, Spain|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 727–256|
|Flight origin||Madrid–Barajas Airport, Spain|
|Destination||Bilbao Airport, Spain|
Iberia Airlines Flight 610 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight from Madrid to Bilbao, Spain. On 19 February 1985, a Boeing 727-200 operating the flight crashed into a television antenna on the summit of Mount Oiz in Biscay near Bilbao. All 141 passengers and 7 crew on board died.
The aircraft involved was a Boeing 727–256, powered by three Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A turbine engines capable of carrying 189 passengers and registered as EC-DDU. The aircraft was named Alhambra de Granada. It entered service on 18 May 1979 and had flown 13,408 hours at the time of the accident.
At 09:09 the crew received permission to descend to flight level 4,300 feet (1,310 meters), and at 09:16 the first officer established contact with the tower of Bilbao airport. Then the dispatcher gave permission to continue the descent: "Iberia 610, you can continue descending to Bilbao, approach to ILS, lane 30, wind 100 degrees 3 knots, airfield pressure 1025, descend to a height of 70 [6,998 feet (2,133 m)]". The crew repeated the transmitted information, after which the dispatcher offered them a direct approach. However, the captain refused, choosing a standard approach plan. At 09:22 the crew reported on the VOR passage of Bilbao at an altitude of 7,000 feet (2,100 m), reaching the starting point of the landing approach. The crew received permission to descend to an altitude of 5,000 feet (1,500 m). This was the last radio transmission from flight 610.
The aircraft reached 5,000 feet (1,500 m) at 09:25. The minimum height in the region was 4,354 feet (1,327 m), but the crew set the altitude on the warning system to 4,300 feet (1,300 m). However, after reaching this altitude the plane continued descending. The weather conditions at that time were cloudy with fog, with 2.5 miles (4.0 km) of visibility. The descent was controlled by the autopilot. When the plane dropped to 4,040 feet (1,230 m), the ground proximity warning system warned that the aircraft drop below the safe level, but the crew misinterpreted these messages. At 09:27, after 57 seconds from the moment of descent to a safe altitude and 19 miles (31 km), flying 177 feet (54 m) above Mount Oiz (elevation 3,356 feet (1,023 m)) in a landing configuration (with flaps extended and landing gear lowered), and at a speed of 385 kilometres per hour (239 mph), the aircraft collided with an antenna tower at the Euskal Telebistarues television tower at 3,356 feet (1,023 m), shearing off its left wing. The aircraft then fell 2,130 feet (650 m) from the TV tower and crashed into a forest. All 148 people aboard died.
According to the investigation, the crew distrusted the autopilot during the descent phase, but it is likely that they forgot to turn on the ALT SEL button, either accidentally disengaged it, or the system itself malfunctioned. As a result, after reaching their assigned altitude, the autopilot did not support it, which led to a further decline, and the pilots did not control it. When the grounded proximity warning system activated and sounded the “pull up" alarm, the captain mistakenly interpreted it as “shut up." Investigators also discovered that the TV tower installed on the mountain was not marked on the navigation maps available to the crew.
Investigators determined the cause of the crash was pilot error due to the flight crew misinterpreting data and flying the aircraft below the safety altitude. The accident report stated:
"Their [i.e. the pilots'] confidence on the automatic capture performed by the Altitude Alert System, the misinterpretation of its warnings, as well as a probable misreading of the altimeter made the crew fly below the safety altitude, colliding into the television antennas' base, thus losing the left wing, falling to the ground with no possible control of the aircraft.".
- "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
- "Final report" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-19.
- "19.02.85 21777 EC-DDU Iberia" (in Portuguese). Boeing 727 Datacenter.net. Retrieved 2013-11-19.
- Technical Report A-009/1985 – Accidente ocurrido el 19 de Febrero de 1985 a la aeronave Boeing 727–256, matrícula EC-DDU en el Monte Oiz (Vizcaya) / CIAIAC
- Flight 610 final report Archived 24 July 2015 at WebCite
- Comisión de Investigación de Accidentes e Incidentes de Aviación Civil (Civil Aviation Accident and Incident Investigation Commission)
- on YouTube
- "La familia del piloto del avión que se estrelló en Bilbao puede recibir 10 millones de pesetas de indemnización" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2013-11-19.