History June 24, 2014 at 04:01 pm

BOAC Canadair C4 Airliner Crash In Nigeria Happened On This Day In 1956

D.L. Chandler | Contributor, F2FA

D.L. Chandler June 24, 2014 at 04:01 pm

June 24, 2014 at 04:01 pm | History

nigeria plane crash 1956

The 1956 British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) air accident in Nigeria led to early investigations of a weather phenomenon known as a “microburst,” which has been responsible for several major wrecks over the years. The BOAC crash happened on this day that year, with 32 people perishing in the crash with 13 survivors.

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The four-engine Canadair C-4 Argonaut aircraft shared a design similar to a DC-4, one of the popular propeller-powered planes of the era. The plane’s flight route originated in London and made the stop in Lagos before continuing on to Tripoli in Libya.

Around 3:21 p.m., rain was pouring as the aircraft took to the air. At around 250 feet, the plane began to descend rapidly. The pilot tried to apply full power to the craft, but it failed to climb. The plane crashed in to a tree just over a mile at the end of the runway.

Twenty nine of the plane’s 39 passengers were killed.

The next day, the British Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation and BOAC flew in a team of investigators. Nigeria’s Director of Civil Aviation was also on hand as well. As reported by the London paper The Times, a thunderstorm cell in the area was the main culprit for the crash.

From the Board of Inquiry report:

The accident was the result of a loss of height and airspeed caused by the aircraft encountering, at approximately 250ft after take-off, an unpredictable thunderstorm cell, which gave rise to a sudden reversal of wind direction, heavy rain, and possible downdraft conditions. The formation of the cell could not have been predicted by the meteorological forecaster at Kano airport, nor was it visible to the pilot in command before taking off. In the circumstances, no blame can be attached to the pilot in command for taking off.

The term microburst has become the term used to describe the strong, storm-sparked downward winds that shifted the airliner’s trajectory. The most-recent incident involving microbursts occurred in 2012 when Bhoja Air Flight 213 in 2012 crashed in bad weather as it approached Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad.

All 127 passengers on board were lost.

Most experienced pilots have the ability to navigate microbursts effectively, however.

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