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25th of December 1965

After flight preparations were completed as normal, Japan Air Lines (JAL) 813 was lined up on Runway 01 of San Francisco International Airport for its flight to Tokyo Japan. Onboard of the Douglas DC-8-33 (JA-8006), 10 crew and 31 passengers.

The weather at the time was calm, with Scattered clouds at 4500 feet, visibility 50 miles, wind 280 degrees at 10 knots. At 13.08 local time, the aircraft lifted off from Runway 01. Three minutes later with engine thrust set at climb power while flying at a speed of 270 knots climbing through 4500 feet the crew heard a muffled explosion, felt the aircraft shudder and a violent yaw to the left occurred. At the same time engine indications for engine #1 were erratic. It was obvious to the crew that they had a major failure in the #1 engine. The correct procedures for an engine failure were executed by the crew and the vibration stopped. With no fire warning on the flight deck, the crew was unaware of a major fire in the #1 engine (Pratt and Whitney JT4A-9). With the engine not visible from the flight deck the crew was only alerted approximately 20 seconds after the engine failure when the purser and a positioning crew member ran to the flight deck after seeing the fire in the #1 engine from the cabin.

Based on this vital information the crew initiated the Emergency Procedures for an engine fire. When during this procedure, the fuel supply to the engine was shut, the fire, extinguished. Immediately after the onset of the engine trouble, ATC was informed and an emergency was declared. A return to San Francisco was initiated, however, the Captain (Pilot Flying) had difficulty with the control of the aircraft. It was noticed by the crew that the main hydraulic system pressure was fluctuating between 1200 and 1700 psi, with system quantity decreasing. The correct Emergency Checklist items were performed and when the Auxiliary hydraulic pump was switched on and the standby rudder system engaged the aircraft control was restored.

JA-8006 ©Steve Aubury

To avoid the steep turn required to return to San Francisco a diversion to Oakland International Airport was requested and granted. At 13.25, 17 minutes after lifting off from San Francisco the aircraft landed at runway 29 of Oakland International Airport. All passengers and crew were uninjured. Damage to the aircraft was extensive;

  • Engine #1 disintegrated

  • Shrapnel damage to the left-wing, #2 engine pylon and fuselage

  • Extensive fire damage to the #1 engine pylon and left-wing structure in the area of engine #1.

The #1 engine (s/n 611311) had just been installed on the aircraft after an overhaul by the airline's engine shop during an aircraft maintenance visit. After a test flight, the aircraft commenced revenue service on the 24th of December. The incident was investigated by the NTSB, the full report is available by clicking here.

The cause for the engine failure was determined to be the result of the low-pressure compressor torque ring not being secured by rivets during the engine overhaul. The encountered hydraulic system issues and, lack of fire warning and control issues were all the results of the disintegration of engine #1.

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