Air India Flight 101

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Air India Flight 101

An Air India Boeing 707 of the same model (Boeing 707-437)
Accident summary
Date 24 January 1966
Summary Controlled flight into terrain
Site Mont Blanc massif, France
Passengers 106
Crew 11
Injuries (non-fatal) 0
Fatalities 117 (all)
Survivors 0
Aircraft type Boeing 707-437
Aircraft name Kanchenjunga
Operator Air India
Registration VT-DMN
Flight origin Sahar International Airport, Bombay, India
1st stopover Delhi International Airport, New Delhi, India
2nd stopover Beirut International Airport, Beirut, Lebanon
Last stopover Geneva International Airport, Geneva, Switzerland
Destination Heathrow Airport, London, United Kingdom

Air India Flight 101 was a scheduled Air India passenger flight from Bombay to London that accidentally flew into Mont Blanc in France on the morning of 24 January 1966.1

Accident

Air India Flight 101 was a scheduled flight from Bombay to London; and on the day of the accident was operated by a Boeing 707, registration VT-DMN and named Kanchenjunga.2 After leaving Bombay, it had made two scheduled stops at Delhi and Beirut and was en route to another stop at Geneva.2 At Flight Level 190, the crew was instructed to descend for Geneva International Airport after the aircraft had passed Mont Blanc.2 The pilot, thinking that he had passed Mont Blanc, started to descend and flew into the Mont Blanc massif in France near the Rochers de la Tournette, at an elevation of 4,750 metres (15,584 ft).23 All 106 passengers and 11 crew were killed.3

Passengers

Among the 106 passengers were the chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha.3 and Amrit Prasad Pradhan, founder of the Amrit Science College in Nepal.citation needed G. Bertoli, Air India's regional director for Europe, died. G. V. Divaswami, the airline's superintendent of technical operations, perished. Two Americans and a French woman on the airline's United States staff also died.4

Aircraft

The Boeing 707-437 VT-DMN had first flown on 5 April 1961 and was delivered new to Air India on 25 May 1961.5 It had flown a total of 16,188 hours.5

Investigation

At the time, aircrew fixed the position of their aircraft as being above Mont Blanc by taking a cross-bearing from one VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) as they flew along a track from another VOR. However, the accident aircraft departed Beirut with one of its VOR receivers unserviceable.23

The investigation concluded:2

a) The pilot-in-command, who knew on leaving Beirut that one of the VORs was unserviceable, miscalculated his position in relation to Mont Blanc and reported his own estimate of this position to the controller; the radar controller noted the error, determined the position of the aircraft correctly and passed a communication to the aircraft which, he believed, would enable it to correct its position.

b) For want of a sufficiently precise phraseology, the correction was mis-understood by the pilot who, under the mistaken impression that he had passed the ridge leading to the summit and was still at a flight level which afforded sufficient safety clearance over the top of Mont Blanc, continued his descent.

Constellation

In 1950 Air India Flight 245, a Lockheed Super Constellation on a charter flight, had crashed at almost the same location with the loss of 48 crew and passengers.3

Recent discoveries

Wreckage of the crashed Boeing still remains at the crash site. In 2008, a climber found some Indian newspapers dated 23 January 1966; an engine from Air India Flight 245 was also discovered. On 21 August 2012, a 9 kilograms (20 lb) jute bag of diplomatic mail, stamped "On Indian Government Service, Diplomatic Mail, Ministry of External Affairs", was recovered by a mountain rescue worker and turned over to local police in Chamonix.67

An official with the Indian Embassy in Paris took custody of the mailbag, which was found to be a "Type C" diplomatic pouch meant for newspapers, periodicals, and personal letters. Indian diplomatic pouches "Type A" (classified information) and "Type B" (official communications) are still in use today; "Type C" mailbags were made obsolete with the advent of the internet.8 The mailbag was found to contain, among other items, still-white and legible copies of The Hindu and The Statesman from mid-January 1966, Air India calendars, and a personal letter to the Indian consul-general in New York, C.G.K. Menon.9 The bag was flown back to New Delhi on a regular Air India flight, in the charge of C. R. Barooah, the flight purser. His father, R.C. Barooah, was the flight engineer on Air India Flight 101.10

In September 2013 a French alpinist found a metal box containing the Air India logo at the site of the plane crash on Mont Blanc containing rubies, sapphires, and emeralds worth more than $300,000, which he handed in to the police to be returned to the rightful owners.11 In her book Crash au mont Blanc, which tells the story of the two Air India crashes on Mont-Blanc (1950 and 1966), Françoise Rey writes about a box of emeralds sent to M. Issacharov, London, described by Lloyd's.12

References

Notes

  1. ^ Mendis, Sean (2004-07-26). "Air India : The story of the aircraft". Airwhiners.net. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
  3. ^ a b c d e f "The Air-India Disaster". Flight International: 174. 3 February 1966. 
  4. ^ Flight International. 3 February 1966. p. 174.
  5. ^ a b c Pither 1998, p. 291
  6. ^ "Diplomatic post bag from 1966 Indian plane crash found on Mont Blanc". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-11-28. 
  7. ^ Agence-France-Presse
  8. ^ Firstpost
  9. ^ Deccan Herald, 19 September 2012
  10. ^ The Indian Express, 19 September 2012
  11. ^ Climber finds treasure trove off Mont Blanc. (n.d.). Yahoo News Malaysia. Retrieved September 26, 2013, from Yahoo News
  12. ^ CRASH AU MONT-BLANC, Les fantômes du Malabar Princess et du Kangchenjunga, Françoise Rey – Edition Le Petit Montagnard

Bibliography

Crash au Mont-Blanc, les fantômes du Malabar Princess et du Kangchenjunga. Françoise Rey. Glénant 1991, Le Petit Montagnard, 2013. France

External links


Coordinates: 45°52′40″N 06°52′00″E / 45.87778°N 6.86667°E / 45.87778; 6.86667








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