BOAC Flight 911 1966

Clear Air Turbulence?

It is extremely rare for turbulence to be so bad that it causes a large passenger airline to crash.


But there have been instances, including a celebrated case involving a BOAC (later British Airways) Boeing 707 near Mount Fuji in Japan.

On a flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong, the plane ran into extreme turbulence and crashed near the Mount Fuji mountain in March 1966.


All 113 passengers and 11 crew on board were killed and the subsequent inquiry found the probable cause of the disaster was that “the aircraft suddenly encountered abnormally severe turbulence which imposed a gust load considerably in excess of the design limit.”


David Kaminski-Morrow, European editor of the internet news service Air Transport Intelligence, said: “The Tokyo incident shows that these things can happen but you don’t normally get anything that brings an airliner down.”

He went on: “Aircraft do have radar which effectively ‘sniffs out’ thunderstorms but it is a little more difficult to track down what is known as clear-air turbulence.


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