61 Years ago today: On 26 February 1960 an Alitalia Douglas DC-7 crashed on takeoff from Shannon; killing 34 out of 52 occupants.
|Date:||Friday 26 February 1960|
|C/n / msn:||45231/945|
|Engines:||4 Wright R-3350 (988TC18)|
|Crew:||Fatalities: 11 / Occupants: 12|
|Passengers:||Fatalities: 23 / Occupants: 40|
|Total:||Fatalities: 34 / Occupants: 52|
|Aircraft fate:||Written off (damaged beyond repair)|
|Location:||Shannon Airport (SNN) ( Ireland)|
|Crash site elevation:||14 m (46 feet) amsl|
|Phase:||Initial climb (ICL)|
|Nature:||International Scheduled Passenger|
|Departure airport:||Shannon Airport (SNN/EINN), Ireland|
|Destination airport:||New York-Idlewild International Airport, NY (IDL/KIDL), United States of America|
Alitalia flight 618 was a scheduled service from Rome, Italy, to New York, NY, USA, with a refueling stop at Shannon, Ireland.
The flight was being flown under the supervision of a check pilot.
The aircraft, a Douglas DC-7C, arrived at Shannon without incident and after refueling, it was cleared to take off from runway. The weather was clear but dark and partially overcast.
The take-off from runway 05 was normal except that the ground roll was probably slightly prolonged. The landing gear was retracted normally. A turn to the left was begun very shortly after gear retraction when the aircraft had climbed to about 165 ft. Power was reduced from take-off power to alternate climb power (2080 BHP) shortly after the turn had been initiated. The flaps, which had been at either 20° or 10° initially, were not fully retracted prior to power reduction. Following power reduction, the aircraft accelerated instead of climbing and lost height while still turning. The landing lights were on during the flight. The aircraft struck the ground while still in a left turn – the point of impact being 65 ft amsl. The left wing tip made the initial contact. The left propellers (Nos. 1 and 2) and left wing struck the stone wall and grave stones of Clonloghan Church. The tips of No. 3 propeller first struck the wall and then made cuts in the turf. The speed of the aircraft at impact was of the order of 170 – 180 kt.
The aircraft was completely destroyed by impact and subsequent explosion and fire. One steward and seventeen passengers survived the accident.
PROBABLE CAUSE: “No definite evidence leading to a particular reason for this accident was revealed by the investigation. It can only be concluded that the aeroplane lost height in a turn shortly after takeoff and struck the ground.”