Accident British Aerospace Nimrod MR.2 XV256, Monday 17 November 1980
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Date:Monday 17 November 1980
Type:Silhouette image of generic NIM model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
British Aerospace Nimrod MR.2
Owner/operator:Royal Air Force - RAF
Registration: XV256
MSN: 8031
Engine model:Rolls-Royce Spey 250
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 20
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:ca. 1,5 km S of Forres-Kinloss RAF Station (FSS) -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:Forres-Kinloss RAF Station (FSS/EGQK)
Destination airport:Forres-Kinloss RAF Station (FSS/EGQK)
Investigating agency: MoD UK
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Just before 07:30 a crew took off in semi-darkness on the final sortie of their conversion from the Nimrod 1 to the Nimrod MR.2 aircraft. Being the final sortie, the normal crew was increased to 20 by 5 checking crew and an additional Air Engineer. The surface wind was 070 degrees at 02 kts, with 8 km visibility in rain and a main cloud base of 3000 ft.
Engine response and indications during the takeoff run were normal, but shortly after takeoff, at an estimated height of 20 ft, the aircraft flew through a dense flock of sea birds (likely gulls). It suffered numerous bird-strikes. Almost simultaneously the no.1 engine surged violently, suffering a catastrophic internal failure. The low pressure compressors on the nos 2 and 3 engines were also damaged and, although they continued to run, they produced little thrust. Effectively the fully laden aircraft was being powered by only the No 4 engine which itself may have been damaged.
Some 27 seconds after takeoff the aircraft came down on the relatively soft tree-tops of a forest of young pine trees 1300 yards from the end of the runway and was quickly engulfed in flames.

CAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT: "The investigation into the accident established, that the cause was a multiple birdstrike which occurred at a critical stage of flight. The aircraft suffered such a severe loss of thrust that maintenance of height and flying speed quickly became impossible. It was the captain's skill in keeping the stricken aircraft airborne long enough to make a very smooth and controlled crash at minimum speed into the treetops that undoubtedly saved, the lives of the 18 crew members. After the accident 77 dead sea birds were found on or near the runway. It is not known how many others were ingested by the aircraft engines."

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: MoD UK
Report number: MAAS 10/82
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 6 months
Download report: Final report


Mike Wain
UK Ministry of Defence MAAS 10/82


Revision history:


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