Varig Flight 820

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Varig Flight 820
Varig Boeing 707-379C Hoppe.jpg
A Varig Boeing 707-379C similar to the one involved in the accident
Accident summary
Date 11 July 1973
Summary In-flight fire, leading to loss of controls and belly landing
Site near Orly, France 48°45′N 2°24′E / 48.750°N 2.400°E / 48.750; 2.400Coordinates: 48°45′N 2°24′E / 48.750°N 2.400°E / 48.750; 2.400
Passengers 117
Crew 17
Fatalities 123
Injuries (non-fatal) 11
Survivors 11
Aircraft type Boeing 707-320C
Operator Varig
Registration PP-VJZ
Flight origin Galeão International Airport, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Stopover Orly Airport, Paris, France
Destination Heathrow Airport, London

Varig flight 820 was a flight of the Brazilian airline Varig that departed from Galeão International Airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 11, 1973, to Heathrow Airport, London, England and a stopover at Orly Airport, in Paris, France. The plane, a Boeing 707 prefix PP-VJZ, made an emergency landing on an onion plantation, about four kilometers from the Orly Airport, due to the smoke inside the cabin, triggered by a fire started in one of the toilets of the Boeing 707. The plane made a forced landing that resulted in 123 deaths, with only eleven survivors (ten crew members and one passenger).


Flight 820's problems began when a fire started in a rear lavatory. Crew members moved to the front of the airplane toward the emergency exit, as many passengers in the body of the plane inhaled smoke. Prior to the forced landing, many of the passengers had already died of smoke inhalation. The aircraft landed at a field 5 km short of the runway, in a full-flap and gear down configuration.

Only one passenger survived, while the major part of the crew left the plane by the emergency exit at the top of the cockpit. The captain of this flight, Gilberto Araujo da Silva, disappeared 30 January 1979 while flying Varig Cargo Boeing 707 PP-VLU over the Pacific Ocean.[1]

A possible cause of the fire was that the lavatory waste bin contents caught fire after a still lit cigarette was thrown into it, the FAA issued AD 74-08-09 requiring "installation of placards prohibiting smoking in the lavatory and disposal of cigarettes in the lavatory waste receptacles; establishment of a procedure to announce to airplane occupants that smoking is prohibited in the lavatories; installation of ashtrays at certain locations; and repetitive inspections to ensure that lavatory waste receptacle doors operate correctly".

In 1979, Captain Araújo da Silva was in charge of Varig Flight 967, a Boeing 707-323C cargo jet carrying 6 crew members. It disappeared during a flight on January 30, 1979.[2]


Most of the passengers on the aircraft were Brazilian. The only survivors were in the cockpit and the first several rows of seats. Of the 11 survivors, 10 were members of the crew.[3]

Notable passengers who died included:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Germano da Silva, Carlos Ari César (2008). "No céu de Paris". O rastro da bruxa: história da aviação comercial brasileira no século XX através dos seus acidentes 1928–1996 (in Portuguese) (2 ed.). Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS. pp. 285–290. ISBN 978-85-7430-760-2. 
  2. ^ url=
  3. ^ a b "Death in the Air: Fire and Fumes." Time. 23 July 1973. Retrieved on 8 December 2010.(subscription required)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

External image
Photo search for Varig Boeing 707 PP-VJZ at