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Crash of a Handley Page H.P.81 Hermes IV in Southend

Date & Time: Oct 9, 1960 at 1247 LT
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
G-ALDC
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Barcelona – Southend
MSN:
81/4
YOM:
1949
Location:
Region:
Crew on board:
5
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
71
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Aircraft flight hours:
17183
Circumstances:
Following an uneventful flight from Barcelona, the crew completed the approach and the landing on a wet runway. After touchdown, the pilot applied brakes according to the procedures but the aircraft was unable to stop within the remaining distance, overran, struck an embankment and came to rest with its nose on a railway track. All 76 occupants were evacuated safely while the aircraft was considered as damaged beyond repair.
Probable cause:
The accident was due to the aircraft aquaplaning during part of the landing run. The low frictional values during this condition prevented the captain from obtaining effective braking.

Crash of a Handley Page H.P.81 Hermes IV/A in London

Date & Time: Mar 8, 1960
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
G-ALDH
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
MSN:
81/9
YOM:
1950
Region:
Crew on board:
6
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Circumstances:
Upon landing at Heathrow Airport, the right main landing gear collapsed. The four engine aircraft skidded on runway before coming to rest. All six crew members were uninjured while the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.
Probable cause:
Failure of the right main gear upon landing due to fatigue.

Crash of a Handley Page H.P.81 Hermes IV/A in Meesden: 3 killed

Date & Time: Apr 1, 1958 at 1113 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
G-ALDV
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Stansted - Stansted
MSN:
81/22
YOM:
1950
Region:
Crew on board:
3
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
3
Circumstances:
The aircraft took off on a test flight from Stansted Airport at 1059LT and climbed steeply towards the northwest. A few minutes later it was observed approaching the airport from the west at a height of approximately 1,500 feet. At 1113LT the Air Traffic Control Tower received a radio call from the aircraft in which the captain declared an emergency and said that the controls were jammed. At about the same time the aircraft was seen some 6 miles northeast of the airfield descending in a series of dives and climbs. It crashed in a field shortly thereafter killing the crew of three. The greater part of the wreckage was destroyed by fire.
Probable cause:
The accident was caused by the elevator mechanism becoming jammed, loss of control resulted. The jamming was due to the presence of a small extraneous object which entered the control mechanism.
Final Report:

Crash of a Handley Page H.P.81 Hermes IV/A in Calcutta

Date & Time: Sep 1, 1957 at 0530 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
G-AKFP
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Blackbushe – Karachi – New Delhi – Calcutta – Singapore
MSN:
81/1
YOM:
1948
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
6
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
58
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Circumstances:
The Hermes aircraft was on a non-scheduled passenger flight from Blackbushe Airport, England to Singapore with stops at Karachi, Delhi and Calcutta. While making a radar assisted approach to run way 01R at Dum Dum Airport, Calcutta, it collided (at 0000 hour GMT) with a Dakota aircraft which was lined up on runway 01L. The Dakota was destroyed and four members of the crew, the only occupants on board, were fatally injured. The Hermes sustained substantial damage but was not repaired. Two passengers were injured.
Probable cause:
An error on the part of the Commander of the Hermes aircraft in turning down the R/T during the final stage of the radar assisted approach and in deciding to continue the approach under conditions which did not enable him to identify positively the correct runway. This led him landing on runway 01L instead of 01R as granted by ATC.
Final Report:

Crash of a Handley Page H.P.81 Hermes IV/A in Blackbushe: 7 killed

Date & Time: Nov 5, 1956 at 2352 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
G-ALDJ
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Tripoli – Blackbushe
MSN:
81/11
YOM:
1950
Region:
Crew on board:
6
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
74
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
7
Circumstances:
The aircraft was flying under charter to the Air Ministry and had flown from Idris Airport, Tripoli with a crew of 6 and 74 passengers, nearly all members of servicemen's families. Shortly before midnight, on landing at Blackbushe in poor visibility, the aircraft undershot the runway, hit a beech tree 3,617 feet short of the threshold, swung sharply to port, came down among pine trees about 3,000 feet from the beech tree and caught fire. Three crew members were killed by the impact and four children lost their lives due to fire.
Probable cause:
The most probable cause of the accident is that in difficult conditions and while suffering from a degree of fatigue above the normal, the captain, relying on his vision of the airport lights to assess his height, judged his height to be higher than it actually was.
Final Report:

Crash of a Handley Page H.P.81 Hermes IV/A at Faisal AFB

Date & Time: Aug 5, 1956
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
G-ALDK
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
London – Karachi
MSN:
81/12
YOM:
1950
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
7
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
65
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Circumstances:
The approach to Karachi International Airport was attempted in poor weather conditions and a limited visibility due to heavy rain falls. On final, the left windshield wiper failed and the crew did not realized he was approaching Faisal AFB runway 08 instead of Karachi-Intl Airpor runway 07, when the airplane struck the ground and crashed short of runway threshold at Faisal Airbase (Drigh Road). All 72 occupants were evacuated safely while the airplane was damaged beyond repair.
Probable cause:
An undershooting of the runway 07 selected for landing attributable to the failure of the aircraft's left windshield wiper. The secondary cause was a mistake in confusing runway 08 at PAF airfield Drigh Road, with runway 07 at Karachi Airport (the latter being the correct runway for use) when landing in meteorological conditions below those recommended as minima by the Pakistan Department of Civil Aviation.

Crash of a Handley Page H.P.81 Hermes IV/A off Trapani: 7 killed

Date & Time: Aug 25, 1952 at 0300 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
G-ALDF
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Blackbushe – Luqa – Khartoum
MSN:
81/7
YOM:
1950
Location:
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
6
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
51
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
7
Circumstances:
The aircraft, engaged on a non-scheduled flight from Blackbushe, England to Wadi Seidna, Khartoum, via Malta, took off from Blackbushe Airport at 2025LT on August 24 with 51 passengers and 6 crew. The flight was normal until 0025GMT when the aircraft reached a position about 20 miles west of Trapani. At this time, No. 2 and No. 3 engines showed signs of abnormal functioning and were deliberately shut down and the propellers feathered. Without electrical power except from the batteries which were depleted of their charge by use of the radio equipment for emergency signals, Nos. 1 and 4 engines began to show signs of abnormal functioning. At approximately 00300LT, a ditching was carried out on the sea between the Port of Trapani and the island of Formica. Four passengers were drowned and two missing, one stewardess was also missing.
Probable cause:
The probable cause of the accident lay in a failure of one or both of the two inner engines number two and three. The reason for the failure was undetermined. The contributory causes were:
- State of mind arising from the knowledge of another accident, only a short time before, to an aircraft of the same type, which was proved to have been due to power-plant failure,
- Failure of electrical generators when number two and three engines stopped,
- Batteries inadequate for ensuring normal flight functions and not even sufficient for satisfactory transmission of distress messages,
- Limited experience of the crew and of the hostesses on this type of aircraft,
- Limited training of the crew,
- Emergency procedures not properly followed, particularly by the hostesses,
- Life rafts either missing or not used,
- Failure of lifebelts.

The Commission was of the opinion that only one of the two inner engines (Nos. 2 and 3) failed of its own accord and that the stoppage and failure of the other one was caused by an error of the flight engineer.
Final Report:

Crash of a Handley Page H.P.81 Hermes IV/A in Pithiviers

Date & Time: Jul 23, 1952 at 2325 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
G-ALDB
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Blackbushe – Luqa – Fāyid
MSN:
81/3
YOM:
1949
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
8
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
68
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Circumstances:
The aircraft was performing a special flight from Blackbushe to Fāyid AFB in Egypt with an intermediate stop in Luqa, Malta, carrying 68 British soldiers and a crew of eight bound for Egypt to assist the troops after the coup done by General Nasser. For diplomatic reason, the aircraft was wearing the military WZ839 registration instead of the civil G-ALDB one. While flying south of Paris, the engine number four exploded. The propeller blades detached and hit the engine number three. In such conditions, the pilot-in-command reduced his altitude and attempted to divert to Pithiviers aerodrome for an emergency landing. Following a stable approach, the aircraft landed on a grassy runway and came to rest in flames. All 76 occupants were able to evacuate the cabin safely before the aircraft would be partially destroyed by fire. It is reported that some of the occupants were slightly injured.
Probable cause:
The exact cause of the explosion on the engine number four could not be determined with certainty. However, it was reported that several components (among them the reduction gear pinion bearing) of the engine number four failed in flight, causing the propeller to detach and the engine to partially disintegrate.

Crash of a Handley Page H.P.81 Hermes IV near Atar: 1 killed

Date & Time: May 26, 1952 at 0845 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
G-ALDN
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
Yes
Site:
Schedule:
London – Tripoli – Kano
MSN:
81/15
YOM:
1950
Flight number:
BA251
Location:
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
8
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
10
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Circumstances:
The aircraft took off on a scheduled service from Tripoli to Kano with a crew of eight and ten passengers. The weather forecast indicated fine weather en route and thunderstorms in the Kano area. Due to faulty use of the variation setting control on the Gyrosyn compass and the inability of the crew to determine the aircraft's position properly by the standard methods, the aircraft, with practically no fuel and over the desert, made a wheels-up landing in a wide depression littered with shifting sand-dunes surrounded by rocky escarpments. The port wing was torn off and the remainder of the aircraft slewed left and came to a standstill without breaking up. No fire resulted and all passengers and crew were evacuated without difficulty. Six were slightly injured but the copilot died five days later as a result of exhaustion brought about by strain and heat.
Probable cause:
Causes of the accident, in chronological order, are set out by the report as follows:
- Faulty use by the navigator of the variation setting control on the CL2 Gyrosyn compass,
- Faulty checking of compasses by incorrect astral bearing and without the aid of radio bearings,
- Incorrect inference drawn by the captain in pronouncing the CL2 Gyrosyn compass correct and the P.12 magnetic compass unserviceable,
- Fault on the part of the captain in not returning to Tripoli when the P.12 compass was regarded as unserviceable (in breach of BOAC regulations),
- Inability of the crew to realize that astro shots were being taken on the wrong stars,
- Inability of the crew to determine the aircraft's position properly by the standard methods when the VSC setting error was discovered,
- Lack of decisive action on the part of the captain once he knew he had lost his way,
- Ignorance, on the part of those on board, of the assistance which could have been afforded by Atar airfield.
Final Report:

Crash of a Handley Page H.P.68 Hermes I in Radlett: 2 killed

Date & Time: Dec 3, 1945
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
G-AGSS
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Radlett - Radlett
MSN:
68/1
YOM:
1945
Region:
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Circumstances:
First prototype of the Hermes, this model H.P.68 (s/n 68/1) was later renamed H.P.81. Both crew members left Radlett Airfield to complete the first test flight on this new airplane. Few minutes after takeoff, while cruising in the vicinity of the aerodrome, the four engine aircraft went out of control and crashed in a field located 5 km from the airport. Both occupants were killed.
Probable cause:
Investigators considered that the accident was the direct result of elevator overbalance, this brought about flight conditions the nature of which caused the pilot to lose control. Although the porpoising motions set up by the overbalanced elevators would have been expected, the final manoeuvre of the aircraft, in climbing suddenly, cannot be satisfactorily explained. It seems certain, however, that at different trimmer settings, a reversal of stick forces would have occurred with which the pilot could not have kept in phase as the loads increased.