As I am also "flying" a bit the 727-100 here a Mexican "ship"
Here at Monterrey Norte (MMAN), were this airplane flew regularily from 1967 to 1969 as the morning flight MMMX MMAN. Exactly that airplane crashed there in marginal weather into the Cerro del Fraile (left of the cockpit) taking the lifes of all 79 onboard on 4th of June 1969. As the flight data recorder was inadaquatly wired, the voice recorder was not found and the ATC recordings did not contain the last several minutes, the explication was only superficially and conspiracy theories up today flourish.
Nevertheless: MMAN is not a place for sloppy navigation as you fly into an airport in between mountains:
Flight MX 704 passed the VOR of the now International airport at 10.000 ft with 250 kts should have flown a procedure like that:
In good weather even starting at that high altitude and speed in a 727-100 it would not create a problem, as this airplane could descent and brake at the same time and with its enourmous flaps and brakes on all wheels it could stop im a very short distance.
But at that day problems piled up, Navaids where out of service, weather at or below mínimums etc.
The official report stated CFIT but did not elaborate why one of the most famous captains of MEXICANA did commit such a failure. Kind regards
Thank you all for your comments. As you noticed, I do love flying in the classic era.
Walter, Thank you for that interesting account of the Mexicana 727, FT.701 crash near MMAN. Numerous factors are always involved in plane crashes.
One must also give credit to the aircrews who regularly fly safely and without incidents, out of, and into areas in the world that require precise navigation and airmanship.
Especially in the cases of CFIT "controlled flight into terrain" the investigators nowadays are going much further than back in the sixties as the obvious fact "they flew too low or where they shouldnt have been" is clear from the accident itself.
The case of MX 704 was some years ago investigated again by the Mexican Parliament, as a famous Mexican reformist politican died on that flight together with the two times Wimbledon tennis champion Rafael Osuna. Seems it was an accident but varios factors of "incapacities and neglects" outside the cockpit were involved which were not written into the original report. But the parliament did not clear the shadow hanging over the late Cap. Guilermo Garcia Ramos. This pilot had 15.000 civil flight hours, fought against the Japanese, suvived a night floating at high sea and was saved by a US Catalina pilot searching for him againts clear orders. As many pilots of his time he was a type of captain "you do not discuss with 15.000 hours" but famous to arrive always in time even under adverse conditions. Seems he was one of the "right stuff" who layed the basis for aviation with an attitude which today is not sought for in future pilots.
Post by aerofoto - HJG Admin on Feb 18, 2020 19:28:18 GMT
This pilot had 15.000 civil flight hours, fought against the Japanese, suvived a night floating at high sea and was saved by a US Catalina pilot searching for him
Even the very best and most experienced of aircrew can make mistakes .... or fall victim to other sorts of mishandlings and operational traps.
"Fate" isn't fussy like that .... since it doesn't mind whom it claims or how.
MEXICANA's early B727 operations (with the -100's) were punctuated by a couple of nasty accidents .... of the type which also beset one or two other operators transitioning from propellers to jets during the early to mid 1960's too.
Jet engines have a slower spool rate .... and with that (and even with a lot of power applied suddeny) comes slower direct acceleration rate (within which lift is generated) .... so .... there was a need for early jet crews to quickly learn to stay ahead of their aircraft .... because combine these technical realities with the fact that jets featuring "T-Tail" configurations were more succeptable to the fatal "Deep Stall" phenomenon (as was also proven the case with the BAC ONE-ELEVEN and TRIDENT), then, these factors could .... if allowed .... conspire to become a deadly cocktail.
In the case of at least 2 (I think it was) of MX's B721 prangs .... both occurred during approach to landing as result of airspeed being allowed to deteriorate too much/to the extent where the stall phenmenon commenced .... and from which recovery was impossible prior to the aircraft hitting the ground despite full power had already been applied in attempt to resolve the lethal ROD descent that resulted.
One can get caught out like this using the HJG B727's too .... if one's not careful
MEXICANA had delivered a perfect operation with the COMET IV before changing to the 727s. Besides the accident of XA-SEL its sister ship XA_SEJ crashed some months later shortly before reaching MMMX. It was typically this staying behind the power curve while on short approach. But it could not be proofen as the flight recorder again was not correctly wired and the voice recorder missing. 1973 XA-SEN landed hard in a field 2 km short of the runway, all onboard survived.
The worst B727 accident with 169 deads was a 727-264 as an overheated brake started a fire in the wheel well while cruising at 33000 feet due to using air instead nitrogen for inflating a tire. The fire incendiated the still inflamable hydraulic fluid and cut of all hydraulics and electrics of the airplane making it unsteerable.
Post by aerofoto - HJG Admin on Feb 19, 2020 0:35:13 GMT
the flight recorder again was not correctly wired and the voice recorder missing.
Was BOEING doing that way back then too
I remember during the 80's ANSETT AUSTRALIA got quite irate, with BOEING, when a brand new/factory fresh B733, was delivered to the airline with "110 faults" discovered upon its arrival.
I can't recall what was said, or what came out of it all (other than an industry-wide alert being communicated in regard to it, but Australians, like their fellow NZ'ers too, typically possess "an extensive arsenal of profane abusive adjectives that very adequately/appropriately label the ancestry of the motherhood of perpetrators of such unacceptable sloppiness"
Seems the problems with the Flight Data Recorder and the CVR were "homegrown" by MEXICANA serviceman as in the case of XA-SEJ the FDR was reinstalled two days before the accident and the wiring was faulty same as in XA-SEL. That the CVRs in XA-SEL and XA-SEJ were not onboard is strange. But at that time many pilots and their unions disliked that box spying them. The Serviceman who used air instead of nitrogen to inflate a tire for the B 727-264 XA-MEM went to jail. Nothing is known about his superiors who did not deliver in time a new bottle of nitrogen.
P.S.: This does not mean that delivering an airliner was and is as simple as buying a can of beer. Every airline sends experienced pilots and servicemen to the manufacturer for some longer time to watch the production and the tests and testfly themselves the new "baby". If the bird arrives with so many problems the people who had received it should answer some questions. But nevertheless there is gossip in the aviation community what had happened in transferflights with the new wonder: e.g.: Breakdown of the computers of the flight controls over Greenland, the bird playing crasy, the BOEING servicemen desperatly opening the floor beside the kitchen, crawling down into the computer compartment, resetting the computers and BINGO it flies again as it should.
Lesson: Always have a Leatherman with you to open the screws of the floor!!!
Thanks for asking: For the moment I am learning something I learned already 75 years ago: walking. Thanks GOD there was no operation necessary but I have to guard me not lean me on me left leg for some weeks to come. It takes time I have to spend in a rehabilitaion center. For the discussion of MX 704 I wanted to add: After many tries I have maneged to land out of the 10.000 ft 250 kts Cap Garcia Ramos started his approach and weather at minimums (500 ft 1,5 miles). For a much better pilot as I (who flew into MMAN regularily) it was managable, so it was not necessary to fly so far outside safe airspace. The ride itself being a roller coaster using everthing to brake and come down with 2000 ft/min nearly to the missed approach point. So the main cause of the accident was not being high and fast, other factors were present, like the two DME indications wich were 10 DME at the critical moment to turn to the final approach 207 deg. Flying a DME ARC of Roberto VOR 115.4 farther on would have led directly into the mountain with a heading of 260 deg. But as the devil seems had created the approaches, flying a 9,2 nm DME ARC of Monterrey VOR 114.7, would have led them safely to the Runway, even if VOR 115,4 was out of service. As no recordings of the last critical minutes exist one can only supose what had happened. My guess would be: The started the approach trying to use the VOR 115,4 discovered this VOR was out changed mind to use the other procedure using VOR 114,7 (which was already selected on Nav 2) and mixed it up while having a heated discussion with ATC. When they discovered their mistake they tried a go around turning left to 230 deg but smashed into the Cerro del Fraile not far below its peak.