Air France F-BJTB – 12. September 1961

Date  12.   September 1961
Location Rabat-Sále, Morocco
C/N 68
Model  Caravelle   III
Airline Air   France
Registration F-BJTB
Occupants  6/6 + 71/71
Aircraft history F-BJTB c/n 68 made its first flight on May 17th 1961   and was delivered to Air France 13 days later and named “Bearn”.
Accident description AF2005 took off from Paris-Orly at 18:26 local   time bound for Rabat and Casablanca. After a flight of 2 hours the   air-traffic controller informed the crew of F-BJTB that the weather   conditions at Rabat were bad: wind (3 kt), visibility less than 500m, fog and   ceiling overcast at 350 m. At 21.00 local time the Caravelle passed the small   village Kenitra at Flight level 150 (15.000ft), then contacted approach and   continued to descent. Some minutes later AF2005 passed KJ NDB (Non Directional   Beacon), which is located 800m west of Rabat Airport, and made a 360°   turn to loose altitude. Now flying at 1650 feet, F-BJTB passed Rabat city. At   21:08 the crew requested a 180° turn to intercept the runway 04 localizer. KJ NDB would be used as backup for the final approach. The control tower immediately replied and advised the crew that KJ NDB was not in line with the runway 04, but he did not receive a confirmation. At 21:10 he informed the crew about the visibility which was now less than 100m. Again AF 2005 did not   confirm the message. Some hours later a rescue team found the burning wreck of F-BJTB. The Caravelle was on the 4 mile final when it struck the ground. The nose gear touched the ground at 21:09:03 followed by the main gear. The Caravelle then struck a rock and exploded when it hit a hill. The flaps were extended to 10° which shows that the crew thought they were flying 1000 feet   higher than their actual altitude. The reason for the loss of 77 lives has never been properly determined but it is possible that once again the crew was confused by the different altimeters. Reading of the Kollsman window altimeter may be delicate as demonstrated by some tests carried out by highly trained crews both of Sud Aviation and Air France.