Updated: Apr 10, 2022
It was on this day in 1969 at 11.15 local time that a loud bang was heard in the VC-10 from BOAC (British Overseas Airways Cooperation. Something had gone wrong!
The aircraft after landing back at London Heathrow
G-ASGK, a Vickers Super VC-10 from BOAC, took off from London Heathrow at 10.15 lt, During the take-off roll cabin crew and passengers, seated in the back, heard (what they described as) a rubbing sound. The flight deck crew was unaware of anything abnormal, as all indications were normal. At 3000 feet thrust was reduced, as part of the Noise Abatement Procedure, to 94% and the after takeoff checklist was completed. One of the cabin crew members reported the unusual sound to the flight crew, in the absence of any abnormal indications no action was taken by the flight crew. 5 minutes after take-off, at 10.20. the aircraft had entered clouds and engine anti-ice had been selected on when a loud bang was heard. Followed by a fire warning for the #4 engine (right-hand outboard) Simultaneous with the captain's call for the #4 Engine Fire Checklist the Flight Engineer called out that the #3 engine was spooling down and seemed unrecoverable. A quick analysis from the Captain led to him drawing the conclusion that the primary failure was the #3 engine, which caused the #4 engine fire. He told the First Officer to start the #3 Engine Failure Checklist. The appropriate checklists were being performed by the crew, including the discharge of a fire extinguisher into the #3 engine. After completion of the #3 Engine Fire Checklist, the #4 Engine Fire Checklist was performed. During the performance of this checklist, the #4 Engine Fire warning extinguished, and the crew decided not to use the fire extinguisher on this engine. ATC was contacted and an immediate return was requested due to a dual engine failure. The decision was made not to dump fuel due to the suspected damage to the airframe. This resulted in the aircraft being 90.000lbs (38.877 kg) over the MLW. This led to an overweight landing at 327.000 lbs (~148.000).
Damage to the #3 and #4 engine, with the #3 engine HPT visible
Due to the failure of the #3 & #4 engines the Hydraulic System B was not available. As result, the Righthand main landing gear had to be lowered using the free-fall mode.
Vref for the landing was 168 a "normal" landing followed, although 3 tires on the Right-Hand landing Gear deflated. An evacuation was not deemed necessary and passengers disembarked using steps brought to the aircraft. What had happened? According to the investigation was the failure of the LP Turbine. This failure was not contained, causing damage to the #4 engine and subsequent fire, and also causing some punctures in the aircraft fuselage. The full investigation report can be found by clicking here.