Date & Time:
Sep 24, 1959 at 2324 LT
Paris – Bordeaux – Bamako – Abidjan
Captain / Total hours on type:
Copilot / Total hours on type:
Aircraft flight hours:
Shortly after a night takeoff from runway 23 at Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport, the aircraft followed a straight-in path but failed to gain sufficient height. After a short course, while at an altitude of about 100 feet, the four engine aircraft struck pine trees, stalled and crashed in flames in a wooded area located 1,050 meters past the runway end. The aircraft was destroyed by impact forces and a post crash fire and all 9 crew members and 45 passengers were killed. Eleven passengers were seriously injured.
The Board considered that the accident was probably caused by the most unfavorable combination of several of the following factors:
- Failure of one or more engine,
- Wrong maneuver of the undercarriage or flaps,
- Malfunction of the control systems,
- Incident in the cockpit,
- False indication on one or more instruments,
- Wrong indication of the artificial horizon,
- Failure of the anemometer,
- Incorrect altimeter setting,
- Error in the variometer.
The reconstructed flight showed that during the first segment of climbout and during a very short critical phase, a slight increase in speed will produce a considerable decrease in rate of climb or even a slight loss of altitude. In view of the rapid sequence of cockpit operations during this phase, together with the rapid variation in flight parameters, and the lack of precision - even inaccuracy - of readings of certain instruments, and lacking time reference and external visual references, a pilot may follow a line of flight that will bring the aircraft back near the ground if, during this period, optimum climbing speed is not maintained and the altimeter is not carefully watched.