As one of only four first-generation four-engine long-range airliners, along with the Boeing 707, McDonnell-Douglas DC-8 and Ilyushin Il-62, the Vickers VC10 was one of only two to have wings. uninterrupted. , aft-mounted Rolls Royce Conway turbofans and a T-tail to maximize its short-field and high-lift performance.
Although it was praised by passengers and crew members alike, its oversized and oversized design, produced in short-body Standard and long-body Super versions, limited its sales to just 54 aircraft, including those for the Royal Air Force. , and made it a technological success, but a financial failure.
This study analyzes its short history of accidents.
Other than the initial stall and drag deficiencies encountered during the VC10’s flight test program, the type experienced few airframe and engine failures, reflecting both its superior engineering and relatively few in operation.
However, teething problems arose in December 1964 when a landing gear warning light illuminated on a BOAC Standard 1101 as it approached Manchester. Although it landed safely after the landing gear was extended by gravity, the anomaly was identified as gear locking down, which was later changed. The real culprit, however, would surface later.
The same plane issued the same warning three weeks later as it approached Jan Smuts International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. Despite several extension attempts, it did not lock into place. During their next circle to burn off fuel and reduce the risk of fire after landing, the crew finally managed to lower the gear and landed without incident.
Its more permanent grounding, during which engineers flew in to discover the real problem, led to the discovery that a corroded spindle had been behind the incident and it was recommended that further corrosion protection be applied afterwards. Although all VC10 operators were informed of the finding, no further incidents occurred.
Another, albeit relatively minor, incident occurred on August 9, 1967 when a BOAC Super 1151, en route from Lima, Peru, to New York-JFK, with an intermediate stop in Jamaica, severed a four-by-four wing section. two and a half meters. , which traveled behind the wing and then fell to the ground, piercing the roof of a home at 214 North Street in Manhasset Hills, Long Island. There were no injuries to those in the house or even awareness of those on board, so Flight 500 landed safely at 7:56 p.m. local time. As passengers disembarked from what they considered a “routine” bout, the incident testified to the aircraft’s design, as the missing flap did not even affect its lift during approach or landing.
Of far greater scope was his September 9, 1970 hijacking, along with that of a TWA Boeing 707 and a Swissair McDonnell-Douglas DC-8, carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or PLFP, in Jordan’s Dawson Field. , the largest-scale and unique event of its kind in history. Since the passengers had been allowed to leave the plane, there were no fatalities.
However, the type suffered two fatal accidents during the 15-year period between 1964 and 1979.
The first of these occurred on November 20, 1969 with aircraft 5N-ABD operated by Nigeria Airways on a multi-sector flight from London to Lagos with intermediate stops in Rome and Kano. The aircraft itself, the first production standard VC10-1101, was originally registered as G-ARVA and served BOAC for five years, between 1964 and 1969. Nigeria Airways only operated it for two months and had 18,431 hours in its airframe at time.
The crew was hardly inexperienced. Captain Val Moore, 56, had flown for BOAC in several notable piston and pure-jet types, including the Halton, York, Hermes, Argonaut, Comet 4 and VC10. Of the 15,173 hours on his log, 3,323 of them had been commanded by that same Vickers design.
First Officer John Wallis, 30, had also flown the type with East African Airways for two and a half years. Of his 3,500 hours, 900 of them had been on the VC10.
Also in the cockpit were flight engineer George Albert Baker, 50, and navigator Basil Payton, 49, both serving Nigeria Airways but employed by British United.
The four crew members operated all three sectors.
Flight WT 925 had left London the previous evening at 22:10, undergoing routine operations to both Rome and Kano. But before he left Lagos, the captain requested 30,000 kilos of additional fuel, fearing that civil unrest in Lagos would prevent him from landing and force Kano to turn back.
Taking off the short 66-minute segment at 06:24 resulted in an estimated time of arrival (ETA) of 07:28.
At 07:11, or six minutes after the aircraft made its initial contact with air traffic control (ATC), it requested clearance to descend from its current altitude of 35,000 feet to 14,000 feet, the latter to avoid the interference from a Fokker F departing from Lagos. 27 Turboprop friendship. After visually checking and passing the Nigeria Airways quad-jet, the VC10 received further clearance to descend and maintain 5,000 feet.
His subsequent request for a straight-in approach to runway 19 was granted, although he was required to report that he had reached 2,200 feet.
The misunderstanding of the local climatic conditions seems to have played a crucial factor in the event. While the airport was under clear skies, the area around it was not. Thick fog, from treetop level to about 2,000 feet, covered the ground a mile to the north, and poor visibility rose to 5,000 feet.
Descending through 2,200 feet at 07:29, VC10 complied with its earlier report request and was asked to do so again by the tower when it reached a point six miles from touchdown. No further transmissions were received.
Shortly after the 08:05 departure of two Nigerian Air Force planes from Lagos, they saw smoke rising from the clouds on the approach path to runway 19.
Nearly in its final landing configuration, with 35-degree trailing-edge flap, landing gear extended, and a 6.7-degree tailplane configuration, Aircraft 5N-ABD had skimmed the treetops at 207 feet. on the ground, losing his number two and three. port flaps and left main landing gear bogie. After another 350 feet, she lost her entire port wing.
Going through three other trees over the next 250 feet, it lost more of its structure, in this case, right wing flap panels number two, three, and four. After covering a distance of 1,700 feet from its initial crash into a tree, it hit the ground nose up and left wing down, losing its tail and four stern-mounted engines, before the rest of the aircraft stopped. 300 feet beyond this point.
The fuel that ruptured from the tanks ignited a fire with no survivors.
Although the aircraft was not equipped with a flight data recorder and no definitive cause was determined in the sequence of events that led to the aircraft’s destruction, it was evidently unable to clear obstructions in its approach path and monitor its altitude and rate of descent during what was, but should not have been, a visual approach during instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) at the end of a high three-sector flight, which placed the crew outside their legal duty time.
VC10’s second fatal accident occurred three years later, on April 18, 1972, when a Super 1154, registered 5X-UNA with 18,586 airframe hours, crashed on takeoff from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Operating East African Airways Flight EC 720 to Rome and finally to London, it was given its start-up clearance at 09:21 and subsequently followed the east taxiway to runway 07. Winds were reported to have no variable addresses. at five knots.
Cleared for takeoff at 09:38:40, he made his acceleration run. But, just before reaching its V1 speed, or the moment at which its takeoff had to be aborted or continued, its nose wheel ran through a steel jack pad left by a Cessna 185 that had set off earlier, resulting in in the perforation of the right of its two tires. The cabin crew experienced the collision as a strong shock and vibration.
The nose rose briefly, but touched the ground again.
Upon aborting takeoff, the captain pulled the throttles back to idle and engaged the thrust reversers, while the T-tail quad-jet banked slightly to the right and one of the main gear tires blew out. Now turning left, it struck an embankment, causing the port wing to lift momentarily and then intercept the runway 25 light steel lattice approach strut.
The impact, which ruptured fuel tank 1A, unleashed a cascade of flammable liquid as the aircraft fell 10.6 meters to the lower ground beyond the runway and broke apart. Eight of the 11 crew and 35 of the 96 passengers perished.
According to the investigation report, “The accident was due to a partial loss of braking effort derived from an incorrect assembly of part of the braking system, for which the aircraft could not stop within the remaining emergency distance after a correct procedure. abandoned takeoff executed”.