Accident Boeing 747-237B VT-EBD, Sunday 1 January 1978
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Date:Sunday 1 January 1978
Time:20:15
Type:Silhouette image of generic B742 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Boeing 747-237B
Owner/operator:Air-India
Registration: VT-EBD
MSN: 19959/124
Year of manufacture:1971
Engine model:Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7J
Fatalities:Fatalities: 213 / Occupants: 213
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Category:Accident
Location:3 km W off Bombay-Santacruz Airport (BOM) -   India
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:Bombay-Santacruz Airport (BOM/VABB)
Destination airport:Dubai Airport (DXB/OMDB)
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Narrative:
New year's day 1978. It's 20:12 when Air-India flight 855 departs Bombay Airport's runway 27 for a flight to Dubai. The Boeing 747-200, named "Emperor Ashoka", was cleared to climb to 8000 feet and report leaving 2400 feet. Approx. one minute after takeoff the plane enters a gentle right turn heading for the Arabian Sea. The Attitude Director Indicator (ADI) however remained in a right-bank indication, while the wings were already level. The captain then said: "What's happened here, my instrument...". The co-pilot didn't note the captain's concern and replied: "Mine has also toppled, look's fine." The flight engineer however noticed the difference between the captain's ADI and the third spare ADI. Because it was dark outside and the aircraft was over the Arabian Sea, there was no visual contact with the horizon. The captain continued to roll to the left because, looking at his ADI, he still thinks the plane is in a right bank. As the airplane rolled through 40 degrees left, the flight engineer indicated to the captain: "Don't go by that one, don't go by that one...". The plane however continued to roll to the left, to 108 degrees left bank. The 747 started to descend from approx. 2000 feet altitude until it crashed into shallow (10 m deep) water, 3 km offshore in an approx. 35-40 degree nose down pitch.

PROBABLE CAUSE: The probable cause of this accident was due to the irrational control wheel inputs given by the captain following complete unawareness of the attitude of the aircraft on his part after Attitude Director Indicator (ADI) had malfunctioned. The crew failed to gain control based on the other flight instruments. He had failed to determine the attitude of the aircraft with the associated flight instruments including Standby Horizon Indicator. The co-pilot had failed to monitor the flight instruments and did not render any assistance to the captain in ascertaining the attitude of the aircraft.

Sources:

Aviation Disasters / D. Gero
ICAO FILE NO. 78/1-0
Jet-Airliner Unfälle seit 1952 / J. Richter, Chr. Wolf

Statistics

  • worst accident in 1978
  • 5th worst accident of this aircraft type
  • 2nd worst accident of this aircraft type at the time

Location

Images:


photo (c) Werner Fischdick; Frankfurt International Airport (FRA); 17 April 1976

Revision history:

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