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G-ARPI - The Trident Tragedy: 40 years ago today

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G-ARPI - The Trident Tragedy: 40 years ago today

Old 18th Jun 2012, 11:40
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G-ARPI - The Trident Tragedy: 40 years ago today

Today is the 40th anniversary of the crash of G-ARPI, the BEA Trident which crashed shortly after takeoff from Heathrow, apparently because the "droop" was raised too soon after takeoff, causing it to stall.

The crash cost the lives of all 118 on board, including Capt Key and FOs Ticehurst and Keighley.

One of the major outcomes of this crash was that CVRs were mandated afterwards; the lack of cockpit voice recorders made the inquiry significantly more difficult.
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Old 18th Jun 2012, 13:43
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Yes, that is how humans learn. Trial and Error. It is good that CVRs were made law. That and, if I recall correctly, the CRM issues on the flight deck are real gifts to the future.
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Old 18th Jun 2012, 13:50
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I was in the tower at Glasgow when we received word of this tragedy within minutes of it happening. The thing that got me was the report on the TV news that 'only one garbled transmission was made'. When they played it, it was so clear I could even recognise who the controller was from his voice.

Last edited by chevvron; 18th Jun 2012 at 16:18.
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Old 18th Jun 2012, 17:00
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I recall that one of the first on the scene of this disaster was a passing nurse, who to her very great credit managed to gain access to the broken fuselage to see if she could use her nursing experience to help those trapped inside. Sadly, it transpired that the "super-stall" impact, which occurred over an area little bigger than the aircraft's planform due to the low horizontal velocity, was not survivable.

I thought at the time how noble her action was, at potentially great risk to her own life if a fire had broken out in the fully-fuelled aircraft, and in the highest traditions of her calling. I wonder whether some official recognition of her bravery was subsequently made.
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Old 18th Jun 2012, 17:47
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603DX. Very, very brave of her, and a serious fire DID break out, whilst the rescue services were there. There is video somewhere of people running from the scene. Sad, sad day.
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Old 18th Jun 2012, 17:54
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Remembering Jerry today.

An impossible situation, which terrified me when re-enacted in the sim.

No-one will ever know what happened, but my goodness the total lack of CRM in '72 was dreadful. Never flew with Key, but some of those BEA captains were difficult, to say the least.
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Old 18th Jun 2012, 18:04
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My late father was one of the first handful of Police Officers to reach the scene. It was his second air crash scene he'd attended as a PO, having been an early arrival at the scene of the Viking crash at Southall some 14 years earlier. Both were pretty much the only events in 30 years of service, he never really spoke of afterwards.
My mother still vividly recalls the state of his torn, and kerosene soaked uniform when he arrived home late that night after the Trident crash.
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Old 18th Jun 2012, 19:32
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Now that I've read this thread I wonder if the TV coverage of the crash is one of my first memories? I'm 42 now so the time frame fits with how a toddler develops. The memory I have is of an image being shown on TV of what I presume was main landing gear laying in a field of grass but I can't recall anything else.
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Old 18th Jun 2012, 19:59
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So long ago but still in the memory bank not only for those who died , but the worry and stress of those ground engineers who serviced that aircraft the previous night .
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Old 18th Jun 2012, 20:09
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Yes, I remember this crash very well. See this video on You Tube:

British European Airways Flight 548 Crash of a Trident airliner - YouTube
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Old 18th Jun 2012, 20:12
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603DX, The nurse was on BBC London News this evening recalling how two boys came to get her as the plane had crashed nearby. Apparently she was awarded an MBE.

Last edited by maliyahsdad2; 18th Jun 2012 at 20:13.
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Old 18th Jun 2012, 20:48
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I cleared it for take-off. Low cloud, not very good vis. ATC new little about it until the landlord of the Crooked Billet rang up! Dreadful.

Last edited by HEATHROW DIRECTOR; 18th Jun 2012 at 20:49.
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Old 18th Jun 2012, 20:55
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i was a 15 year old school boy that day & saw it go down behind the trees, i was drawn away from my homework by the unusual engine noise, despite feeling the thump my parents said its a lorry passing, had to drag my dad out of the house to prove it & it was only when a neighbour from the house behind came running round because his children in the garden were screaming a planes crashed he believed me and i was despatched to a bridge to get a look , all i could see through the trees was what looked like an intact part of cabin over the wing, by the time i ran/climbed fences the 500 metre's or so to the site police were already on the scene & bodies were being laid out under what i think were tarpualins, my lasting memory was all the blue flashing lights i saw through my bedroom curtains all night and the fact we had to put furniture on our drives to stop the 'ghouls' using it as a car park! next day i cycled down during lunch break & a policeman let us in to take some photo's.
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Old 18th Jun 2012, 20:58
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Plenty of stress for other BEA flight crew wondering just what had happened. As a 14 year old I recall many many sad days with a very concerned father spending many hours trying to go through what might have happened; then spending days at the Inquiry listening to evidence. He didn't want his next Trident flight to end up the same way.
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Old 18th Jun 2012, 23:20
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avionic type - it wasn't engineering. I am convinced this was flight-crew error.

If you were one of the guys looking after the Tridents, then I have the most profound respect for you. This accident was not the fault of any engineer. Three guys on that flight deck messed-up. Simple as that. One was a friend.
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 06:33
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Hard to believe it was forty years ago. I too, have a personal interest in this accident. Simon Ticehurst was a friend of mine.

Three guys on that flight deck messed-up. Simple as that.
Aileron Drag, I disagree with you, it's not simple. A primary factor was the lack of an appropriate baulk mechanism to prevent premature droop retraction. I've often wondered why there were two separate levers, rather than a single flap/droop lever.

I've just discovered that there is a transcribed copy of the report here:

http://www.fss.aero/accident-reports...2-06-18-UK.pdf
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 07:22
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avionic type - it wasn't engineering. I am convinced this was flight-crew error.

If you were one of the guys looking after the Tridents, then I have the most profound respect for you. This accident was not the fault of any engineer. Three guys on that flight deck messed-up. Simple as that. One was a friend.
But none of this was known until months after the accident. Avionic type's post concerned the engineers at the time - terrified that they had stuffed up the night before.

One other thing that sticks in my mind of the coverage at the time was the news reports that traffic chaos built up very quickly in the area with loads of ghouls converging on the scene.

Last edited by Groundloop; 19th Jun 2012 at 07:25.
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 12:08
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Any engineer who has released an aircraft that subsequently crashed will tell you what it feels like - until it is proved otherwise there is a terrible feeling of 'what did I miss,what did I forget to do?'
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 12:58
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Engineers do feel that way. Next week, I am taking the funeral of a retired US Army aeroengine, engineer who served in Vietnam. His widow told me how sometimes they were pressured to sign off a machine quickly but unless he had checked everything - no signature. He knew that if anything went wrong he would have to carry that for all of his life. Not to mention that they would present his signature as proof that the machine was ready.

He worried that newer and younger engineers would not be able to stand up to the pressure from above. Not much changes.

It's very rare for a prang to be 'simple'. If a light single goes in, it might be simple but something like G-ARPI was not simple.
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Old 19th Jun 2012, 13:04
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I was told Papa India was the reason BA skipped G-EUPI when they got their A319s. Oddly enough the flight number is still active with flybe, BE548 NWI-EDI.
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