Iberia Airlines Flight 062
An Iberia Sud Aviation Caravelle similar to the accident aircraft
|Date||4 November 1967|
|Summary||Controlled flight into terrain|
|Site||Near Blackdown Hill, United Kingdom
|Fatalities||37 (plus one unborn fetus)|
|Aircraft type||Sud Aviation Caravelle|
Iberia Airlines Flight 062 was a twin-engined Sud Aviation Caravelle registered EC-BDD operating a scheduled flight from Malaga Airport, Spain, to London Heathrow Airport. While on approach to Heathrow on 4 November 1967, the Caravelle descended far below the flight level assigned to it and flew into the southern slope of Blackdown Hill in West Sussex, killing all 37 on board.1
The time of the accident was approximately 10:02 pm,2 about 5½ minutes after the plane had been cleared to descend from FL110 (11000 ft) to FL60 (6000 ft).3 Flying at a shallow rate of descent, the Caravelle first clipped trees near Black Down House, then broke through a large hedge and careered across a meadow where 65 grazing sheep were killed outright and 23 more were fatally injured.4 The disintegrating plane continued on, destroying a garage and damaging parts of the roof of Upper Black Down House.1
Aviation fuel caused small fires to break out in the wooded hillside. Debris from the aircraft was scattered over the whole of the roughly 355 yards (325 m) of its passage.4
An investigation could not determine why the aircraft descended through its assigned flight level.1 Audio recordings taken from air traffic control and from the recovered cockpit voice recorder revealed nothing unusual.3 The investigation stated that "no evidence was found of any pre-crash failure or defect in either the airframe or the engines, or of any faulty workmanship."3
The investigation report gave considerable attention to the possibility that the air crew could have misread their "three-pointer" altimeters, which were designed to warn the pilots with a cross hatch indicator when the altitude was below 10,000 feet.3 An excerpt from the report stated:
"The aircraft descended continuously at a steady rate over a period of 13½ minutes and the pointers would have been in continuous motion throughout, increasing the likelihood of misreading. The cross hatching in this type of altimeter first appears in a window in the 10,000ft disc at an indicated altitude of 26,666ft and the edge of the cross hatching would have been visible within 2 minutes of the aircraft beginning its descent. At 10,000ft the cross hatching completely fills the window and it remains filled as long as the aircraft is below 10,000ft. Thus the cross hatching would have been visible to the crew for a period of about 9½ minutes before the aircraft passed through FL60 and it is a matter of conjecture whether it was still an effective warning to them at that stage of the descent.
"With this type of altimeter it is not difficult to read an indication of 6,000ft as 16,000ft if particular note is not made of the position of the 10,000ft pointer. Evidence against the possibility of simple misreading of this sort is the message from the aircraft to ATC reporting passing FL145, indicating at this time the crew knew that they were below 16,000ft. "3
Among the dead was British film and TV actress June Thorburn, who was five months pregnant. Other notables who died were industrialist and Coventry City Football Club vice-president John Clarkson, and Donald "Doc" Campbell of the Campbell Aircraft Company,4 builder of autogyros.56
The nationality of the 37 casualties are listed below.
|Spain||9 (inc. 7 crew)|
- United Airlines Flight 389 – another incident where altimeter misreading is suspected, but not proven
- Controlled flight into terrain
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
- Flight International, 9 November 1967, p. 749 (PDF)
- * Flight International, 30 August 1970, p. 264 (PDF)
- "Fernhust Society – ',Blackdown air crash',". Fernhurstsociety.org.uk. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- Design by Alan Norris, NorrPress. (6 February 1959). "',British Helicopters',". The Helicopter Museum. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- Flight International, 9 November 1967, p. 746 (PDF)
- "',Air Crash Fernhurst',". Find A Grave. Retrieved 16 May 2011.
- Partridge, Ewan (2005), "Fernhurst Remembered – Ewan Partridge recalls the tragic accident to an Iberian Airlines Caravelle on a flight to London Heathrow in November 1967.", Aviation News incorporating Air Pictorial (September 2005) 67 (9): 691–693, ISSN 0965-1896
- Sussex Constabulary (1967). Report on Air Disaster at Blackdown Hill, Sussex, 4 November 1967 [by] Supt G. Dinley [West Sussex Record Office].
- Newsreel footage taken in 1967 of the crash wreckage at British Pathe (requires Adobe Flash)
- Fernhurst Society page on the crash, includes hand-drawn police map of crash site and newsreel video link
- Flight International, 30 August 1970, p. 264 (PDF) – includes a summary of the Board of Trade crash report
- History of Caravelle EC-BDD – very brief timeline
- Photographs of Iberia Caravelles, similar to the accident aircraft at Airliners.net
- Inventory of items in the UK National Archives relating to the crash – of interest to researchers