Runway excursion Accident de Havilland DH-106 Comet 1A CF-CUN, Tuesday 3 March 1953
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Date:Tuesday 3 March 1953
Type:Silhouette image of generic COMT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
de Havilland DH-106 Comet 1A
Owner/operator:Canadian Pacific Air Lines - CPAL
Registration: CF-CUN
MSN: 06014
Year of manufacture:1952
Fatalities:Fatalities: 11 / Occupants: 11
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:near Karachi-Mauripur RAF Station -   Pakistan
Phase: Take off
Departure airport:Karachi-Mauripur RAF Station (OPMR)
Destination airport:Singapore-Seletar Airport (XSP/WSSL)
The Comet aircraft, named "Empress of Hawaii", operated on a delivery flight to Canadian Pacific Air Lines. Since the airline wanted to use the aircraft to open their service between Sydney, Australia and Honolulu, Hawaii on April 28th 1953, it was to be flown to Sydney.
The flight crew had completed a Comet jet conversion training in the U.K. and were still inexperienced in operating the Comet when they departed for the ferry flight to Australia. Neither of the pilots had experienced a night takeoff in the jet, nor had they flown it heavily loaded. The takeoff from Karachi would be the first night time takeoff.
During takeoff, while accellerating past a speed of 85 knots, the pilot raised the nose wheel. He should have levelled the plane until the nose wheel was just off the runway. Instead he continued to roll nose-high. In this position wing drag increased, causing a slower than needed acceleration. Nearing the end of the runway, the pilot brought the nose down but the remaining runway length was insufficient to reach rotation speed.
The aircraft ran off the end of the runway and a wheel on the starboard undercarriage struck the culvert of a perimeter drainage ditch. The Comet swerved and plunged into a dry canal. At a speed of more than 138 mph, the Comet impacted the forty-foot embankment on the far side of the canal.
CF-CUN was the first passenger jetliner involved in a fatal accident.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The accident was caused by the fact that the nose of the aircraft was lifted too high during the takeoff run, resulting in a partially stalled condition and excessive drag. This did not permit normal acceleration and prevented the aircraft from becoming airborne within the prescribed distance. The pilot appears to have realised that the nose was excessively high and took corrective action, but this was done too late to prevent the aircraft striking an obstruction immediately beyond the perimeter fence before it became airborne.
Contributory cause: The pilot, who had only limited experience in the Comet aircraft, elected to takeoff at night at the maximum permissible takeoff for the prevailing conditions. The circumstances required strict adherence to the prescribed takeoff technique, which was not complied with."


FLIGHT, 6 March 1953


  • 50th worst accident in 1953
  • 12th worst accident of this aircraft type
  • worst accident of this aircraft type at the time


Revision history:


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