Wednesday 25 March 2015

Air crashes in the Alps

It has been clear from the start that there would be no survivors from the Germanwings Airbus A320 that came down in a remote area of the French Alps. We know that it lost altitude for eight minutes before hitting the ground. One flight recorder has been found, but it is damaged.

There have been a number of other serious air crashes in the Alps. On 3 November 1950, an Air India Lockheed Constellation flew into Mont Blanc, killing all 48 people on board. Storms delayed the rescue operation, and it was not until four days after the accident that search parties were able to reach the aircraft.

Less than 3 years later, on 1 September, 1953, another Constellation, this time operated by Air France, crashed into the Pelat Massif in the French Alps near Barcelonnette, killing the 42 people on board. Shortly before the crash, the pilot had reported violent storms.

On 24 January, 1966, another Air India aircraft, a Boeing 707, crashed close to the site of the 1950 accident, while en route from Beirut to Geneva, killing all 117 passengers and crew. An investigation concluded that the pilot had miscalculated his position, and had also misunderstood an instruction from air traffic control. There is still debris in the area, and only last year, a passenger’s camera was found by a mountaineer.

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