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Accident Report


This is part of the information provided by the Air Ministry in the Accident Report.  It has been edited to remove parts which do not seem relevant or are unsuitable for the site, and this page provides ' selected highlights' - It is up to the reader to decide the significance - if any - of the information. The colouring was added to parts of the text that might be relevant and which are referred to elsewhere. However we must not apply values from the 21st Century to events in 1962 and no criticism is implied or made - this is not intended to attribute blame or responsibility.

"Channel Airways Operating Procedure

Portsmouth is not equipped with radio communications facilities, and no radio approach aid is located at the aerodrome. Channel Airways have been operating scheduled services into Portsmouth since 1953 and have used Dakota aircraft since the summer of 1960. The minimum weather conditions for landing until March, 1961, were cloud base 1,500 ft. and visibility 2,000 yds. In March, 1961, the operator obtained permission for his aircraft to use the radar facility (GCA) of the R.A.F. Thorney Island.

Owing to permanent echoes, radar controlled descents could not be carried out to the west of Thorney Island, and the procedure adopted by the operator was for aircraft to break cloud by GCA over Thorney Island and then proceed VMC to Portsmouth. The weather minima established for this aid were 500 ft. critical height (CR) and 1,200 yds. runway visual range (RVR). "

"Procedural details as to how the facility was to be used were not laid down in the operations manual, nor was any mention made that the radar was at Thorney Island and not available on Sundays, the day of this accident."



Since there are no provisions at Portsmouth for weather conditions to be observed and passed to aircraft intending to land, the value of a prevailing RVR ( visibility for landing ) is a matter for assessment by the pilot. Subsequent to the granting of an air operator's certificate in March, 1961, the Ministry carried out a detailed examination of the weather minima established in the operations manual. On 5th January, 1962, the Ministry wrote to the operator and raised many comments and queries in respect of his operations. In regard to Portsmouth the letter stated: The minima for Portsmouth are inadequate as the radar assistance from Thorney Island is limited to a cloud break procedure. As the aircraft has therefore to proceed visually to the destination a visibility of 1 n.m. and a minimum obstacle clearance of 300 ft. within 5 n.m. is considered to be necessary.

On receiving this letter, ......  ( Airline ) arranged a meeting with the officer concerned at the Ministry. As a result of this meeting held on 29th January, 1962,   ....... ( Airline ) submitted to the Ministry on 22nd February draft proposals for revised weather minima for all Channel Airways scheduled services, and asked for observations. A week after the proposals had been sent to the Ministry a telephone conversation took place between the officer concerned and the .... ( Airline ). There is, however, some disagreement between them over what was said. The officer maintains he told the ..... ( Airline ) that the detailed survey had not yet been completed but that the figures were in many cases unsatisfactory as they were very much lower than the minima used by any other operator. The ..... ( Airline ) agrees .... told that consideration of the proposals had not been completed but ... asserts that ... was informed there were no criticisms at that time and that the officer would get in touch with him in due course. The officer maintains that he subsequently made several unsuccessful attempts to discuss the proposals on the telephone .......... No record of these calls or of the earlier telephone conversation was retained. The .........( Airline ) has stated that as he had heard nothing further in respect of the draft proposals he gave orders on 3rd May, 1962, for them to be incorporated in the operations manual. He has been unable, however, to ascertain whether the manual carried in the subject aircraft had been amended. ( Accident happened on May 6th 1962 )

The revised weather minima for Portsmouth contained in the proposals were: 600 ft. CH, 1,500 yds. RVR and the runway aid 'THORNEY RADAR'. On 12th February, 1962, in the general interest of air safety in the area, R. A. F. Thorney Island supplied Channel Airways with a diagram showing the A. T. C. letdown procedures to be followed at Thorney Island. The operator produced near similar copies of the diagram and placed them in his aircraft flight guides. The diagram showed a safety lane extending south-east from overhead Thorney Island in which aircraft could letdown to 500 ft., and the tracks to be followed by aircraft under GCA, on ILS, and in the holding pattern: it contained no instructions as to how the aids were to be used by aircraft intending to land at Portsmouth.

On 20th February, 1962, an NDB became operational at Thorney Island and. the ........( Airline ) states the R.A.F. informed him that it was to be used with their already established safety lane. On 3rd March the operator issued the following notice to his pilots: The attention of Pilots is drawn to an NDB now operating at Thorney Island, situated on THORNEY ISLAND AERODROME CODING T.I. 401 KCS. He did not lay down a let down procedure for its use, make any reference to it in the operations manual, or mark its position on the diagram in the flight guide. Neither was the Ministry informed that the aid was to be used. "


"When the operator was granted an Air Operators Certificate on 23rd March, 1961, it was intended that a detailed examination of the weather minima should be made at a later date. On 5th January, 1962, the Ministry wrote to the operator drawing attention to a number of deficiencies in the weather minima established and made particular reference to Portsmouth. Following the meeting with the Ministry held on 29th January, 1962, the operator submitted revised weather minima proposals on 22nd February, 1962. The minima for Portsmouth contained in those proposals were still inadequate. The Ministry have stated that up to the time of the accident they had been unable to ensure that effective remedial action was taken in respect of the revised Portsmouth weather minima, due to the considerable volume of work on which they were engaged following the introduction of air operators certificates. Although the position as regards procedures and weather minima for landing at Portsmouth, which has been discussed .... these matters are not considered to have been contributory factors in the accident."


Regarding flight manual for aircraft ..... minima section ..... " did not indicate that the radar was at Thorney Island. No mention was made that the radar could not be used in the Portsmouth area or that it was not available on Sundays. The weather minima established for this aid were critical height 500 ft., runway visual range 1,200 yds. (The weather minima approved by the Ministry, after the accident, for letting down over Thorney Island with this aid are critical height 750 ft., Runway Visual Range 2,000 yds."

............. " no instructions were issued as to how the procedures were to be used by aircraft intending to land at Portsmouth."

....... " When the operator informed his pilots on 3rd March, 1962, that the Thorney Island NDB was operational no procedural details for its use were made available to them nor were they provided with a letdown chart, although the operator had been reminded by letter from the Ministry on 2nd February, 1962, of the necessity to publish procedures and to make them available to pilots if additional aids were introduced."

Author’s note - it should be remembered that the Captain was NOT familiar with Portsmouth Airfield although he had flown the Southend - Jersey route nearly one hundred times.