Unlawful Interference Lockheed L-749A Constellation VT-DEP, Monday 11 April 1955
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Date:Monday 11 April 1955
Time:09:25
Type:Silhouette image of generic CONI model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Lockheed L-749A Constellation
Owner/operator:Air-India
Registration: VT-DEP
MSN: 2666
Year of manufacture:1951
Total airframe hrs:11163 hours
Engine model:Wright R-3350 (749C18BD1) Cyclone
Fatalities:Fatalities: 16 / Occupants: 19
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Category:Unlawful Interference
Location:off Great Natuna Islands -   Indonesia
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Non-Scheduled/charter/Air Taxi
Departure airport:Hong Kong-Kai Tak International Airport (HKG/VHHH)
Destination airport:Jakarta-Kemayoran Airport (JKT)
Investigating agency: MinTrans Morocco
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Narrative:
The Air-India Constellation (named "Kashmir Princess") departed Hong Kong at 04:25 GMT for a flight to Jakarta. On board were Chinese and east European delegates, mainly journalists, to attend the Asia-Afro Bandung conference.
Around 09:25 GMT, while cruising at FL180, a muffled explosion was heard and smoke entered the cabin. A fire erupted on the right wing behind the no. 3 engine. The no. 3 prop was feathered and an emergency descent was started. During the descent hydraulic failure occurred, followed by an electrical failure. A ditching was planned, but dense smoke entered the cockpit. The aircraft struck the water surface with the right wingtip and crashed.
It is thought that Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was the target of this act of sabotage. His travel plans had been kept secret and he left China three days later.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "An explosion of a timed infernal machine placed in the starboard wheel well of the aircraft. This explosion resulted in the puncturing of no.3 fuel tank and an uncontrollable fire."

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: MinTrans Morocco
Report number: 1/55
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 month
Download report: Final report

Sources:

China spills Zhou Enlai secret (China Daily 2004-07-21)
ICAO Accident Digest Circular 50-AN/45 (108-109)

Statistics

  • 18th worst accident in 1955
  • 44th worst accident of this aircraft type
  • 16th worst accident of this aircraft type at the time

Location

Revision history:

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