Accident de Havilland DH-106 Comet 1 G-ALYY, Thursday 8 April 1954
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Date:Thursday 8 April 1954
Time:19:10
Type:Silhouette image of generic COMT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
de Havilland DH-106 Comet 1
Owner/operator:South African Airways - SAA
Registration: G-ALYY
MSN: 06011
Year of manufacture:1952
Total airframe hrs:2704 hours
Engine model:de Havilland Ghost 50
Fatalities:Fatalities: 21 / Occupants: 21
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Category:Accident
Location:ca 17 km W off San Lucido -   Italy
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:Roma-Ciampino Airport (CIA/LIRA)
Destination airport:Cairo-Farouk Airport (CAI/HECA)
Investigating agency: MinTrans UK
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Narrative:
DH-106 Comet G-ALYY was leased to South African Airways by BOAC. It was flown by SAA crew members between Johannesburg and London with several intermediate stops. The aircraft was grounded in January 1954 following the in-flight structural breakup of sistership G-ALYP. Special checks were carried out and a number of modifications were made affecting the airframe, the controls and the fire detection and protection at the engines. On the 15th February, 1954, the fuselage was subjected to a proving test to 11 lb/sq. in. The aircraft was returned available for service on the 24th February, 1954.
Passengers services with Comet aircraft were permitted to resume on the 23rd March, 1954.
G-ALYY arrived at Rome-Ciampino (CIA) on the 7th April from London and was due to depart the same evening. However, on completion of refuelling it was discovered that the centre tank contents gauge showed no reading although the tank was full. The fault was eventually traced to a co-axial cable for which a replacement had to be flown from England and the departure of the aircraft was consequently delayed for about 24 hours.
SAA Flight 201 finally departed Rome at 18:32. G-ALYY climbed through three moderately thick layers of cloud. After taking off the aircraft from time to time gave its position by radio telephone to Rome Air Control at Ciampino and on the last such occasion at about 18:57 reported that it was abeam Naples and climbing to 35,000 ft. This position and those given earlier indicated that the flight was proceeding according to the B.O.A.C. flight plan. At 19:05 Cairo received a signal from the aircraft reporting its departure from Rome and giving its estimated time of arrival at Cairo. Thereafter no message was received from G-ALYY.
Based on the findings of the accident to G-ALYP, it was concluded that G-ALYY must also have suffered structural failure of the pressure cabin, due to fatigue.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "Owing to the absence of wreckage, we are unable to form a definite opinion on the cause of the accident near Naples, but we draw attention to the fact that the explanation offered for the accident at Elba appears to be applicable to that at Naples."

Accident investigation:
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Investigating agency: MinTrans UK
Report number: CAP127
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 9 months
Download report: Final report

Sources:

ICAO Accident Digest, Circular 47-AN/42 (16-45)
Report of the Public Inquiry into the causes and circumstances of the accident which occurred on the 8th of April, 1954, to the Comet aircraft G-ALYY

Statistics

  • 22nd worst accident in 1954
  • 9th worst accident of this aircraft type
  • 3rd worst accident of this aircraft type at the time

Location

Images:


photo (c) Davi; Kirkinriola cemetery Northern Ireland; 18 July 2017


photo (c) NA3T; London-Heathrow Airport (LHR/EGLL)

Revision history:

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