Accidents and Incidents at Southend

 

Every British airport has had its fair share of incidents and accidents and while Southend Airport has experienced a few of its own, it still easily ranks as one of the safest in the country with a total of four, commercial aviation related fatalities having occurred at or near the airfield itself since the end of WWII. Below you will find a list of all emergencies, incidents and accidents that involved multi-engined aircraft in chronological order from 1945 – 2000, with a short report about the incidents themselves.

 

G-AOBZ

De-Havilland D.H.104 Dove

Dove G-AOBZ

Undercarriage Failure – 20th Sep 1955

This Channel Airways Dove was returning to Southend from Guernsey and while nothing seemed to be untoward prior to the landing, the nose wheel subsequently collapsed as she touched down, resulting in a small amount of damage the underside of the nose of the aircraft. Thankfully, there were no injuries and the aircraft was quickly repaired and returned to service. If you have a picture of the incident itself that you would like to share, then please send it to saadinfomail@gmail.com

 

N7109C

Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation

N7109C

Emergency Landing due to Engine Fire – 12th Jul 1957

This T.W.A. aircraft was on the Hamburg – London leg of a flight to J.F.K. when an engine fire prompted her crew to divert to Southend. All 30 passengers were evacuated safely and were later ferried to London to catch an onward flight to the U.S. The following day, a company Fairchild Packet turned up at Southend with two replacement engines to replace the fire damaged unit plus another that had been shut down due to an excessively high oil pressure warning. The aircraft was quickly repaired and positioned to Heathrow before heading back across the Atlantic. After her arrival in New York, she was then sent on to T.W.A.’s maintenance facility in Kansas for further checks.

With thanks to Peter Clark for providing additional information about this incident

 

G-APAU

Bristol 170 Superfreighter Mk32

G-APAU overrun

Runway Excursion – 13th Aug 1957

Bristol 170 Alpha Uniform was returning from a cross-Channel trip to Ostend when she landed long at Southend, leaving little room to bring the aircraft to a halt. The aircraft skidded off of the end of the runway and onto the grass embankment although thankfully, she stopped short of the railway tracks. However, this Air Charter (Channel Air Bridge) aircraft sustained little in the way of any real damage despite the fact that she had knocked down a fence and destroyed a number of the runway illuminations. Sufficed to say, the aircraft was quickly repaired and returned to service.

 

D-BALI and ZS-DKI

Vickers 610 Viking and Vickers 498 Viking

No Pic Image

Ground Collision – 10th Apr 1958

L.T.U. Viking D-BALI was making one of her regular trips between Southend and Dusseldorf. The aircraft was loaded and then taxied to the runway where she began her take off run. However, after just a few seconds the Viking developed an uncommanded swing, ran off of the runway and struck a parked Trek Airways Viking, damaging her wing. Thankfully, there were no injuries and the L.T.U. aircraft was provided with a replacement wing before being flown with the undercarriage locked down to Blackbushe for the completion of her repairs with Eagle Aircraft Services, B.K.S. at the time being too busy with its current workload. The Trek Viking was also repaired and sold on to African Air Safaris later that year.

 

G-AHPH

Vickers 614 Viking

Viking G-AHPH

Undercarriage Failure – 28th Jul 1959

While on their final approach to SEN, the pilots of this EAFS/Channel Airways aircraft noted that the right hand undercarriage had not locked down successfully. Several airborne attempts were made to secure the gear which included diving the aircraft. However, the starboard green failed to light and the decision was then taken to land on the grass next to the runway. Just after touching down the gear collapsed causing the aircraft to swing fiercely to the right before coming to a halt. Post crash checks revealed a crack in the main spar which resulted in the aircraft being written off. Thankfully, this incident resulted in no serious casualties and after a period of standing in the middle of Southend Airport’s dumping area, the fuselage of the aircraft was dispatched to Ipswich by road where it was broken up for scrap during 1963. If you have a picture of the incident itself that you would like to share, then please send it to saadinfomail@gmail.com

 

G-AGPV and G-AJEO

Bristol 170 Freighter and Auster J/1 Autocrat

No Pic Image

Ground Collision – 22nd Apr 1960

Air Condor’s sole B170 had positioned herself on Southend’s runway and was ready for take off. As full power was applied, an uncommanded swing to port developed which could not be corrected by the flight crew and as a consequence of this, the tail of the Bristol Freighter swung round and struck one of Southend Flying Club’s Auster trainers which was waiting on a taxiway. The B170 sustained moderate rudder damage which was later repaired, while the Auster was written off. If you have a picture of the incident itself that you would like to share, then please send it to the email address in the image above.

 

G-ALDC

Handley Page HP.81 Hermes

Hermes Crash

Runway Excursion – 9th Oct 1960

This Falcon Airways Hermes was returning to Southend on a charter flight from Barcelona. On landing at SEN, the aircraft aquaplaned off the end of the wet runway and ended up with her nose on the railway line. At the time, this aircraft was also being used for military trooping and as a result of the contractual stipulations that were attached to such undertakings, much of the seating was rearward facing which likely contributed towards the 76 souls on board all escaping without serious injury, although five were nevertheless taken to hospital as a precautionary measure. The railway track itself had taken a toll on the nose of the aircraft, effectively rendering the aircraft beyond economical repair and thus the Hermes was quickly removed and was later broken up during March 1962.

 

SE-CDF

Curtiss C-46 Commando

se-cdf-crash-sen

Runway Excursion – 17th Nov 1960

With thanks to Graham Cook for the newspaper article

As the old adage goes “Things often come in threes” and less than a month after the last runway excursion and less than a week after an earth bank had been built to prevent any more aircraft from unceremoniously ending up on the Southend-Liverpool St railway line, a Swedish Commando would nevertheless attempt put this newly created structure to the test. This Transair aircraft landed long, loaded with 2.5 tons of assorted goods and equipment and touched down, after which she developed a skid causing the aircraft to side slip and the rear wheel to skid off of the runway. Thanks to the newly built earthworks, this uncontrollable, careering aircraft was brought to a sudden halt and prevented from trespassing onto the railway itself. Initial reports indicated that the failure of one of the wheel brakes had caused the skid to develop, making all attempts to stop the aircraft impossible. The shaken but uninjured crew and some of the return freight was later flown to Malmö in a Tradair Viking, while the aircraft was towed to the Tradair hangar where she was repaired.

 

F-BCDR

Bristol 170 Freighter Mk21

Undercarriage Failure – 30th July 1964

This French Compagnie Air Fret Bristol 170 was operating a bloodstock flight to Southend. As the aircraft touched down on runway 24, the fixed, port undercarriage strut inadvertently collapsed causing the aircraft to swing off of the runway and onto the central grass area of the airport. Thankfully, there were no fatalities or serious injuries and the aircraft was repaired where she had come to rest before being towed over to the ATEL hangar for further checks and maintenance. The aircraft finally departed on August 31st. Do you have a picture of this accident? If so, then please contact us on the email address below.

 

G-AVJZ

Vickers 812 Viscount

G-AVJZ

Crashed during Take-Off – 3rd May 1967

Viscount G-AVJZ lifted off on a routine C.o.A. check prior to her impending addition to the Channel Airways Viscount fleet. Moments after V2 had been achieved, the number 4 engine was stopped to simulate an engine failure. Unfortunately, the propeller failed to auto-feather and due to a mixture of drag and asymmetric thrust the aircraft yawed severely to the right, causing the wing tip to strike the ground and the aircraft to crash. The Viscount hit a storage shed owned by the engineering firm ATEL and while the crew of the plane survived, tragically, two people inside the building lost their lives, while one more was seriously injured. The wreckage of G-AVJZ was subsequently scrapped.

 

G-APCZ

De Havilland D.H.104 Dove

Wheels Up Landing – Summer 1967

Ind Coope was a relatively regular visitor to Southend Airport during the 1960s with its aircraft bringing in V.I.P.s and executives, often for visits to Star Breweries in Romford (click here for more details). However, within a week of each other, two of this company’s aircraft had made wheels up landings at SEN; a rather unenviable ‘record’ that still stands to this very day. The other aircraft was a Queen Air (reg unknown) and while the reason behind both incidents is unknown, the same pilot was rumoured to have been involved. Indeed, as former SEN ATC duty officer Mike Harvey recountsI was on duty in the tower for the first one and doing a runway inspection during the second and recall looking back and seeing the aircraft sliding along the runway. I also remember the skipper demanding paint and a brush so that he could obscure the registration and company name before the press arrived!”.

 

G-APPU

Vickers 812 Viscount

Viscount G-APPU

Runway Excursion – 4th May 1968

Almost a year to the day since the last Channel Airways accident, Viscount G-APPU while attempting to touch down, landed too far down the runway and at at too high a speed, causing her to skid down the rain soaked 06 and off of the end. The aircraft came to a rest on the earth embankment that had several years earlier, been constructed to protect the Southend Victoria – London Liverpool Street railway line. The aircraft subsequently broke in two due to the impact, with four of the 83 crew and passengers sustaining quite serious injuries from which thankfully, they would all eventually recover. Initially, it was believed that aquaplaning as a result of the excessive landing speed was to blame, although it was later establish that the handbrake had in fact been set and that this had also contributed towards the accident. The aircraft was later cut up and scrapped.

 

PH-MOA

Douglas DC-3 Dakota

Moormanair

Runway Excursion – 3rd Jun 1971

This Moormanair aircraft had just taken off from Southend en-route to Amsterdam when a manifold pressure problem in the starboard engine revealed itself. Although this issue presented no immediate danger to the aircraft, the crew decided to return to the airport. As the DC-3 approached Southend, the problem worsened further and the aircraft touched down about half way along 06. Due to the high landing speed and the rapidly approaching railway lines, one of the pilots attempted to turn the aircraft to port, which resulted in the DC-3 leaving the side of the runway and running onto the Rochford Hundred Golf Course where it hit a mound, causing a partial collapse of the port landing gear and the detachment of the port engine. Of the 36 people on board, only two were slightly injured. The plane itself was written off and the airline collapsed several months after this incident.

Official AAIB Report

 

OO-VGB

Douglas DC-6B

DC-6 OO-VGB crash

Flight Crew Error – 4th Oct 1974

This Delta Air Transport DC-6 had begun her take off run on her return to Belgium with day trippers, when the undercarriage suddenly collapsed. It later became evident that due to a misunderstood comment from the captain, the flight engineer had inadvertently selected the gear up before the plane had produced sufficient lift to become airborne, which resulted in the plane pancaking onto the runway before coming to a stop. All 99 people evacuated safely although one was seriously injured in the process. The aircraft itself was DBR and broken up in March 1975.

Official AAIB Report

 

OO-TEH

Boeing 737-200

Brake Seizure – 31st Aug 1980

One of the few SEN incidents which temporarily closed the airport and yet involved no damage to the aircraft itself occurred at the end of August 1980 when a Trans European Airways 737 blocked the runway at Southend for several hours after the brakes locked up completely. The aircraft had been chartered in empty by Routair to collect stranded P&O Jet Hydrofoil passengers and prior to landing, the captain of the aircraft selected MAX autobrake which subsequently caused the brakes to lock solid after landing. Routair quickly dispatched an Aztec to Luton from the old 33 runway to collect both an engineer and some extra parts and after several hours of work, the passengers boarded and departed without further incident early the following morning. Do you have a picture of the incident itself? If so then please contact us on saadinfomail@gmail.com

With thanks to Nigel Stockwell for providing additional information about this incident.

 

G-BLNB

Vickers 802 Viscount

G-BLNB post wul

Undercarriage Failure – 3rd Mar 1986

British Air Ferries Viscount G-BLNB was positioning to Southend after a night flight between Glasgow and Belfast. On approaching SEN, all landing checks had been completed and the gear selected down although unknown to the crew, the undercarriage itself had not extended due to a failure of the actuator that controlled the hydraulic selector. Another contributing factor was the failure of the gear warning horn which only sounded at the very last moment of the flight, making any recovery impossible. Thus at around 12.30am, November Bravo made a belly landing on the airport runway, causing a considerable amount of damage to her engines and lower fuselage. Thankfully, none of the aircraft’s occupants were injured and despite extensive damage, the aircraft was eventually repaired and returned to service.

Official AAIB Report

 

G-BFYU

Shorts SH5 Belfast

Belfast G-BFYU

Undercarriage Damage due to Heavy Landing – 22nd Apr 1986

G-BFYU was on a positioning flight from Stansted to undergo maintenance on her forward undercarriage at SEN’s, Heavylift engineering facility. The landing itself was hard with the Belfast bouncing once before settling back onto the runway. Once the aircraft had come to a halt, the crew’s attempts to apply power and taxi the aircraft failed and the engines were then shut down. Further investigation revealed that the starboard undercarriage leg had rotated 40° about its axis, while parts of the oleo cylinder which had apparently fractured on impact, had dented and punctured holes both in the undercarriage doors and the body of the aircraft. The aircraft was quickly repaired and returned to service.

Official AAIB Report

 

G-WSJE

Beech Super King Air 200

Mac Garage Crash

Uncontrolled Descent due to Engine Failure – 12th Sep 1987

Just after 3.30am on September 12th 1987, a National Airways King Air departed Southend on a newspaper run bound for Italy. Just after take off, the aircraft suffered total engine failure and began to descend over Rayleigh, a town approximately 2-3 miles from the end of the runway. It was believed that the pilot, New Zealander Hugh Forrester-Brown had planned to make a forced landing on the main road, but at the last moment decided instead to avoid the risk of collision with residential buildings. Somehow, he managed to guide his stricken aircraft onto a large garage and showroom; a courageous act that was to sadly cost him his life. Today, a commemorative plaque exists at this site as a testament to the selfless act of this brave pilot.

Official AAIB Report

 

G-APIM and G-BHWT

Vickers 806 Viscount and Shorts 330-200

G-APIM collision

Ground Collision – 11th Jan 1988

This leased, Fairflight Shorts-330 was taxing out for a ferry flight to Biggin Hill when the aircraft suffered hydraulic failure, which resulted in the nose gear producing an uncommanded and somewhat violent swing to port. The Shorts swung round more than 180 degrees before colliding with the parked Viscount G-APIM, her starboard propeller tearing into the left hand side of IM’s cockpit. Thankfully, the crew of the Shorts while shaken, were physically unharmed while the Viscount itself was unattended at the time, although a BAF engineer had allegedly vacated the aircraft literally seconds before the incident occurred. G-BHWT was considered to be DBER and was scrapped about a year after this incident, while G-APIM would sit at Southend Airport for a couple of years with plastic covering the damage to prevent water ingress into the aircraft. As BAF were slowly beginning to remove their Viscounts from service during the late 80s, her future looked bleak; that was until the Brooklands Museum stepped in to save her. She was eventually moved to their museum site in 1990, where she was lovingly restored and then put on display.

Official AAIB Report

 

9U-BHP

NAMC YS-11-500

Destroyed by Fire – 3rd Nov 2001

This rather rare aircraft arrived with Trygon Ltd at Southend on May 6th 2001, having flown in from Air Caribbean as 9Y-TJB via Iceland. Legend has it that she was destined to join Air Burundi and by the 13th she had been designated the registration 9U-BHP which was quickly applied to the aircraft. However, had she departed at this point then she may well still be flying to this very day, but instead she ended up languishing at SEN until two nights before Guy Fawkes Night when an errant firework landed on and set fire to the roof of a canvas hangar nearby which in turn caused the YS-11 to burn. A Fournier that was being kept inside the hangar was also completely destroyed.