56 Years ago today: On 12 September 1961 an Air France Caravelle crashed near Rabat, Morocco, killing 77 people.

Date:Tuesday 12 September 1961
Time:21:09 UTC
Type: Sud Aviation SE-210 Caravelle III
Operator:Air France
Registration:F-BJTB
C/n / msn:68
First flight:1961
Total airframe hrs:688
Crew:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6
Passengers:Fatalities: 71 / Occupants: 71
Total:Fatalities: 77 / Occupants: 77
Airplane damage:Destroyed
Airplane fate:Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:9 km (5.6 mls) SSW of Rabat-Sale Airport (RBA) (   Morocco)
Phase:Approach (APR)
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Paris-Orly Airport (ORY/LFPO), France
Destination airport:Rabat-Sale Airport (RBA/GMME), Morocco
Flightnumber:AF2005

Narrative:
After a normal flight from Orly Airport, Paris, Flight 2005, Paris-Rabat-Casablanca, reported over the Rabat-Sale Airport, where meteorological conditions were unfavourable owing to thick, low fog which reduced horizontal visibility and ceiling. The pilot reported his intention to attempt a break-through over the nondirectional beacon; the control tower immediately replied that that facility was not in line with the runway, but the message was not acknowledged. The aircraft crashed to the ground at 2109 hours GMT. The aircraft was completely destroyed by impact and the fire which followed.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: “In the opinion of the board of inquiry of all the theories listed above, those related related to material failure appear the least likely. On the other hand, the theory regarding an error in instrument reading appears more probable than the others. Therefore, the Board explained the failure: 1) by the fact that reading of the Kollsman window altimeter, with which this Caravelle was equipped, may be delicate, as demonstrated by some systematic tests carried out by highly trained crews of various European airlines; 2) by the possibility that the pilot made that error of 1 000 ft at the beginning of the descent, retaining it, then gave his full attention to reading the pointer, which seemed to him to be of prime importance, in order to bring in the aircraft at the minimum authorized altitude.”