Accident Lockheed L-749A-79 Constellation HK-163, Monday 9 August 1954
ASN logo

Date:Monday 9 August 1954
Type:Silhouette image of generic CONI model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Lockheed L-749A-79 Constellation
Registration: HK-163
MSN: 2664
Year of manufacture:1951
Fatalities:Fatalities: 30 / Occupants: 30
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:9 km WSW of Terceira-Lajes Airport, Azores (TER) -   Portugal
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:Terceira-Lajes Airport, Azores (TER/LPLA)
Destination airport:Bermuda Air Terminal (BDA/TXKF)
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Bad weather conditions at destination Santa Maria, Azores, forced the crew to divert to Lajes Airport on Terceira Island. Heading for Bermuda, the flight left Lajes' runway 34 around 02:40. Three minutes after takeoff, the Constellation crashed into high ground near the Monte de Boi at 620 m.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The failure of the pilot to carry out the normal climb out procedure following takeoff from runway 34 on a flight to Bermuda and his having made a turn to the left instead of to the right, thus flying into the mountains instead of turning out to sea.
The possibility of the aircraft having been forced to make a left turn may be disregarded since, from examination of the wreckage, it appears that no mechanical failure occurred.
The procedure to be followed had been duly explained to the crew both at the briefing and in the instructions which were certainly given by the tower. It is pointed out, moreover, that the chart of Lajes in the route manual supplied to the crew clearly shows that all turns must be made towards the Northeast.
The question of a right turn following take-off appears to have been deemed a secondary matter by the crew members who called at the briefing office. They simply established that they had to proceed directly to Ponto Sul in order to avoid a collision with the mountains, the highest point of which reached 7615 feet.
From the heading presumed to have been flown by the aircraft before it crashed, it is apparent that the pilot did, in fact, intend to proceed to Ponto Sul. He appears not to have realized, however, that to do so he had to turn eastward towards the sea and not to the West over the land.
It is necessary to mention that, according to his company, this was the first time that the captain had landed at Lajes and that at Santa Maria, where he had already landed several times, the take-off procedure for flights towards the Northwest in the direction of Bermuda also involves a turn towards the sea. The turn at Santa Maria. is made to the left, however, as the airport is located on the extreme west of the island.
The point known as Ponto Sul is shown on the reproduced 1:1 000 000 chart at Fig. 30. Examination of this chart will immediately explain the reason for the adoption in the Azores -control area of the standard procedure whereby aircraft are required to fly over this point before proceeding towards Bermuda, in order to avoid the high ground on Terceira, S. Jorge, Pico and Faial Islands.
Since Lajes Airport is located in the extreme Northeast of the Ilha Terceira, the requirement, for reasons of safety, to turn to the east and out to sea in order to avoid the mountains on the island needs no special comment, being obvious in view of the nature of the terrain.


ICAO Accident Digest, Circular 47-AN/42 (143-150)


  • 9th worst accident in 1954
  • 29th worst accident of this aircraft type
  • 11th worst accident of this aircraft type at the time


Revision history:


The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2024 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314