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Fifty Years On: Viscount Crash At Indee Station

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Fifty Years On: Viscount Crash At Indee Station

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Old 30th Dec 2018, 03:52
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Fifty Years On: Viscount Crash At Indee Station

Tomorrow marks the fiftieth anniversary of one of the worst civil aviation crashes in Australian history.

On New Year's Eve in 1968, MacRobertson Miller Airlines flight 1750 crashed en route to Port Hedland, killing all 26 people on board.

Remnants of the crash can still be found at the site today, with pieces of glass and metal scattered through the red dust.

https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2018-...38?pfmredir=sm

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Old 30th Dec 2018, 05:47
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From the link in the previous post -

Maintenance error

In its report, the Air Safety Investigation Branch concluded that: "the starboard wing of the aircraft separated from the aircraft in flight ... and the cockpit voice record showed that this occurred .... without any prior warning".

Aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas recalled the crash and the following investigation.
"It was a real shock for Western Australia," he said.
"Unfortunately, there was a maintenance error relating to some wing structure.
"I'll make it very simple . . .it was far more complicated than that..... there was a maintenance error made and the wing was weakened.
"Flying around the north west in summer [there is] a tremendous amount of turbulence.
"This plane was on descent into Port Hedland and the wing failed and that was unfortunately always going to be a catastrophic end."
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Old 30th Dec 2018, 06:25
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Originally Posted by Fantome View Post
From the link in the previous post -

Maintenance error

In its report, the Air Safety Investigation Branch concluded that: "the starboard wing of the aircraft separated from the aircraft in flight ... and the cockpit voice record showed that this occurred .... without any prior warning".

Aviation expert Geoffrey Thomas recalled the crash and the following investigation.
"This plane was on descent into Port Hedland and the wing failed and that was unfortunately always going to be a catastrophic end."
That was a "brilliant" quote for sure - I think even the average kindergarten kid could work that out for themselves!

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Old 30th Dec 2018, 22:06
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I was an apprentice at MMA at that time. New all the Flight Crew.
It was a shock to us all.
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Old 31st Dec 2018, 00:41
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It wasn't MMA's maintenance...
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Old 31st Dec 2018, 01:13
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Had not some unknown in the Essendon maintenance hangar , with his knockometer , taken to a tightly fitting sleeve designed to take an engine mount bolt where it passed through the main spar? Thereby creating a stress raiser in the webbing of the spar.
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Old 31st Dec 2018, 07:43
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Folks,
All in all, the various Viscounts had a pretty terrible record in Australia.
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Old 31st Dec 2018, 11:38
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All in all, the various Viscounts had a pretty terrible record in Australia.
I don't know about that Leddie. The RAAF flew two Viscount 832's for a couple of years and as far as I recall we had no problems with them. They were a delight to fly and the soft undercarriage made greasers out of landings that in other types would be hard. The RR Darts were very reliable and I don't recall any in-flight shut down due engine malfunction. Not like the RAAF Convair 440 Metropolitan, where we had engine failures, engine start-up fires and a spate of un-commanded in-flight featherings and in one memorable case a runway propeller after lift off at Canberra.
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Old 31st Dec 2018, 23:44
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Originally Posted by Judd View Post
I don't know about that Leddie. The RAAF flew two Viscount 832's for a couple of years and as far as I recall we had no problems with them. They were a delight to fly and the soft undercarriage made greasers out of landings that in other types would be hard. The RR Darts were very reliable and I don't recall any in-flight shut down due engine malfunction. Not like the RAAF Convair 440 Metropolitan, where we had engine failures, engine start-up fires and a spate of un-commanded in-flight featherings and in one memorable case a runway propeller after lift off at Canberra.
Judd,
Just add up all the Viscount in AU that were lost, the severe fatigue problems with all of them, but particularly the 700 series, then re-consider your statement.
The RAAF 800s never accumulated enough hours /cycles to start falling apart.
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Old 1st Jan 2019, 01:41
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It is generally accepted that the wing of VH-RMQ was damaged at Essendon in 1964 during a modification. Not all Viscount's were grounded in Australia after the Port Hedland crash, only the V700-720, V700-747 and the V700-756 models. Soon after the V700-756 model was cleared to fly again. The public started to shun the Viscount and the airlines put plans in place to replace the remaining V700-756, V800-816 and V800-832 aircraft.

A warning sign for the Viscount occurred in 1961 when VH-TVC on lease to Ansett-ANA crashed soon after take off from Sydney after structural failure in severe turbulence. In my opinion the Viscount single wing spar played a role in the Port Hedland, Botany Bay and Winton crashes.

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Old 1st Jan 2019, 01:44
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31 October 1954 VH-TVA written off at Mangalore loss of control on take off during training, 3 of 8 killed
30 November 1961 VH-TVC right wing failed in thunderstorm,15 killed
22 September 1966 VH-RMI left wing failed due fire caused by #2 cabin blower (pressurisation), 24 killed
31 December 1968 VH-RMQ right wing failed spar fatigue caused by poor workmanship on bushing installation, 26 killed, lower spar boom had been replaced by TAA and then again by Ansett-ANA, life had been 11,400 hours but as a result of this accident and inspection of cracks in other booms the life was reduced to 7,000 hours
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Old 1st Jan 2019, 01:47
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the severe fatigue problems with all of them, but particularly the 700 series,
The TAA Viscount 700 Series that crashed at Mangalore in October 1951 was not caused by an airframe fatigue defect. It was pilot error during an attempted three engine take off.
https://aviation-safety.net/database...?id=19541031-0

30 November 1961 VH-TVC right wing failed in thunderstorm,15 killed. That Viscount did not have weather radar when it penetrated the thunderstorm.

As with similar thunderstorm inadvertent penetrations around the world, where an in-flight break up occurred, one theory ( later discussed in the Challenger incident where the aircraft went into unusual attitudes following an encounter with 747 wake turbulence in the Middle East) is that inappropriate pilot input during attempted recovery from an unusual attitude may be a contributory cause of airframe failure rather than definite proof of airframe fatigue failure.

Extract from Court of Inquiry to VH-TVC revealed:Investigation of the accident concluded:The cause of the accident was the failure in flight of the starboard outer wing in upward bending due to tensile overloading of the lower spar boom at station 323, probably induced by a combination of manoeuvre and gust loading when the speed of the aircraft was in excess of 260 knots. The circumstances and available evidence carry a strong implication that the in-flight structural failure was preceded by a loss of control with a consequential increase in speed to at least 260 knots. The most probable explanation for the loss of control is that the aircraft entered an area of unexpected turbulence of such severity as to deprive the pilots of full recovery.[Note 10]
[3]
[30]The Inquiry gave a strong impetus for greater co-operation between the meteorological service and air traffic control; and for airline aircraft in Australia to be equipped with weather radar to give pilots of these aircraft the ability to avoid hazardous weather.[1]
[31] All Australian airliners were required to be equipped with weather radar by 1 June 1963

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Old 1st Jan 2019, 01:52
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I was waiting at Hedland to board the aircraft. I was an engineering student working on construction sites at Newman and Port Hedland during the summer break from university.
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Old 1st Jan 2019, 08:02
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Originally Posted by Judd View Post
The TAA Viscount 700 Series that crashed at Mangalore in October 1951 was not caused by an airframe fatigue defect. It was pilot error during an attempted three engine take off.
https://aviation-safety.net/database...?id=19541031-0

30 November 1961 VH-TVC right wing failed in thunderstorm,15 killed. That Viscount did not have weather radar when it penetrated the thunderstorm.

As with similar thunderstorm inadvertent penetrations around the world, where an in-flight break up occurred, one theory ( later discussed in the Challenger incident where the aircraft went into unusual attitudes following an encounter with 747 wake turbulence in the Middle East) is that inappropriate pilot input during attempted recovery from an unusual attitude may be a contributory cause of airframe failure rather than definite proof of airframe fatigue failure.

Extract from Court of Inquiry to VH-TVC revealed:Investigation of the accident concluded:The cause of the accident was the failure in flight of the starboard outer wing in upward bending due to tensile overloading of the lower spar boom at station 323, probably induced by a combination of manoeuvre and gust loading when the speed of the aircraft was in excess of 260 knots. The circumstances and available evidence carry a strong implication that the in-flight structural failure was preceded by a loss of control with a consequential increase in speed to at least 260 knots. The most probable explanation for the loss of control is that the aircraft entered an area of unexpected turbulence of such severity as to deprive the pilots of full recovery.[Note 10]
[3]
[30]The Inquiry gave a strong impetus for greater co-operation between the meteorological service and air traffic control; and for airline aircraft in Australia to be equipped with weather radar to give pilots of these aircraft the ability to avoid hazardous weather.[1]
[31] All Australian airliners were required to be equipped with weather radar by 1 June 1963
Judd,
I am well aware of the immediate reasons for each crash.
Are you aware of the "wing filleting" production line to rebuild wings on a regular basis --- never been needed by any other aircraft in airline service in Australia, to my knowledge.
They were a fatigue nightmare, the type of aluminium alloy used in the construction was a major contributor. The approach to structural design dis not help.
I DID NOT attribute all the crashed to fatigue --- you read that in.
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Old 2nd Jan 2019, 01:48
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never been needed by any other aircraft in airline service in Australia, to my knowledge
The Dove wing failures were down to the selection of the wrong spec material for the spar booms.Following a wing failure at Kalgoorlie the ARL determined the safe life to be 3,000 hours using the then new 75ST alloy which the Dove employed. Reverting to the 24ST material used in many designs would increase spar life by an estimated three to five times. At the time little was known about fatigue in metal aircraft structures and the Kalgoolie accident was a seminal event in understanding, and the impetus for research. Likewise, the Vickers Valiant bombers early retirement from service was due to fatigue issues resulting from being built from the wrong spec material.
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Old 2nd Jan 2019, 02:44
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The Viscount was designed with 1940s technology and employed safe-life concepts for major structural components. Modern design is fail-safe where in the event of a structural failure, alternative load paths maintain the integrity of the aircraft. Flying through thunderstorm areas without weather radar is incomprehensible to pilots today, in most airlines radar is no go item unless permitted under the MEL for short flights on a clear day.

The accident with VH-RMI resulted from vibration in the blower causing the oil pump retaining studs to fail, the pump separated from the blower, the blower seized and leaking oil ignited a fire which spread to the inboard fuel cell.

Aviation is much safer today because we learn from the past.
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Old 2nd Jan 2019, 19:59
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I flew the V832 as a First Officer with Ansett-ANA in last part of 1964.
Must say I hated the bloody thing, always something going wrong with it and bugger all fuel.
It's performance out West and North was awful and when we used to transit in Mt Isa we had to cover the controls with blankets as there was no protection from the sun over that section and the controls were too hot to handle if not covered.
In the 6 months I flew it I had :
3 engine shut downs
2 partial hydraulic failures
1 gear failing to extend which luckily did after many attempts- no alternate extension available.
Several failures of the air cond heating system.
There were other small problems too many to mention here.
As mentioned it was a very early pioneer of prop jet aircraft so did not have the redundancies we do now. Single wing spar I think which was fatal in this crash- maybe 2 spars would have given time to get it on the ground.
Also the poor thing was designed for short-medium haul in cool European Climates , not hot dry Australian climates.
Boy, was I glad to leave it in 1965 when I did the B727 course- what a difference!!
It is nice to be able to say I did fly the thing but did not really enjoy it at all.
On a final note the F/O on the flight did a DC3 school with me in Essendon early 1964 . He was from Mandated Airlines. ( New Guinea Ansett subsidiary ) and was not flying for Ansett Mainland. He desperately wanted to be with Ansett so resigned from MAL , joined Ansett and did the Viscount school and was killed 3 months later. Very sad , John Gillam was a great bloke!
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Old 3rd Jan 2019, 00:35
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Those failures in 6 months wouldn’t be that unusual on many types back in those days, we take modern reliability a bit too much for granted. Many Pilots these days will go there entire career without an engine or major system failure.
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Old 3rd Jan 2019, 05:42
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Originally Posted by megan View Post
The Dove wing failures were down to the selection of the wrong spec material for the spar booms.Following a wing failure at Kalgoorlie the ARL determined the safe life to be 3,000 hours using the then new 75ST alloy which the Dove employed. Reverting to the 24ST material used in many designs would increase spar life by an estimated three to five times. At the time little was known about fatigue in metal aircraft structures and the Kalgoolie accident was a seminal event in understanding, and the impetus for research. Likewise, the Vickers Valiant bombers early retirement from service was due to fatigue issues resulting from being built from the wrong spec material.
Megan,
Quite so ---- but we only had a few Doves in service, a very impractical aircraft on Australia --- but a lovely aeroplane to fly, if range/ payload / performance were not consideration.

If you look at history of post WWII UK aircraft, fatigue was a big issue ---- but a lot was known about fatigue --- elsewhere. That knowledge went back to railways around 100 years before.

Don't forget, the Trident 11 finally had its C.of A withdrawn due fatigue problems --- a long way down the line from Comet1.

A good example would be the F-27, a close contemporary of the era, whose wing design, including materials, was an example of what to do, and how to do it, and very successfully.

The SUD Caravelle was another very successful aircraft (in the early aircraft, the fwd fuselage was Comet, produced by DeHavilland) and did not have the "English disease".

Likewise, in USA, there was no history of multiple manufacturers all building seriously fatigue prone aircraft ----- there were in-service problems, but usually (eg: B707) beyond the original design life.

It is an interesting subject, but conception/design shortcomings in UK, for many reasons, laid waste to any future for the UK as a manufacturer of modern airliners.Ably aided and abetted by the bureaucracy, the ARB and the Government "Corporations", BEA and BOAC.

Tootle pip!!

PS: If you want to know what Boeing knew about fatigue and aluminum ( or any material, really) structures, find a full copy of the final report in to the Comet 1 disaster --- and Boeing's gratis advice to DeHavilland that forecast what happened --- Boeing had been building pressure hulls since the B307 Stratoliners

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Old 3rd Jan 2019, 07:04
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Your comments might be a tad superficial, methinks.

You might find that the Comet investigation work was disseminated fairly freely to the opposition and the opposition (read Boeing) took full advantage of the data so obtained. As a consequence, the Brits fell by the commercial wayside and the Americans raced ahead.
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