Vickers Viscount 720C VH-TVC - 1954-1961

VH-TVC was built by Vickers at Hurn, UK, as a Viscount 720A (c/n 46) and originally registered to the Australian National Airlines Commission, otherwise known as Trans Australia Airlines (TAA), on 22 June 1954. It was named ‘John Oxley’. First flown on 17 November that year, VH-TVC was delivered to TAA on 25 November. It was later converted to a Type 720C. The photo above shows VH-TVC at Melbourne/Essendon in 1957.

Six years after entering service, commencing on 7 March 1960, VH-TVC was dry-leased by Ansett-ANA from TAA as part of an enforced DC-6B/Viscount 'cross-charter', a result of the Government's 'Two Airline Policy' of the day. The charter rate was A£160/18/- per day and the aircraft was fitted with 48 First Class seats. The photo below shows VH-TVC repainted in Ansett-ANA colours at Sydney/Mascot in August 1961.

Whilst still on lease to Ansett-ANA, VH-TVC took off from Sydney/Mascot on the evening of Thursday 30 November 1961 bound for Canberra. There were severe thunderstorms in the Sydney area at the time and at about 1926 hours VH-TVC crashed, unseen, into Botany Bay after having suffered a massive structural failure in flight. The four crew (Captain S.A. Lindsay, First-Officer B.A. Costello, Hostesses Aileen M. Keldie & Elizabeth R. Hardy) and all eleven passengers were killed.

The probable cause of the crash was later deterrmined to have been the in-flight failure of the starboard outer wing in upward bending due to overload following an encounter with severe turbulence. This accident gave impetus to arrangements for greater cooperation between the meteorological service and Air Traffic Control, as well as a requirement for all Australian turbine-powered aircraft to be fitted with weather radar - the first time such a requirement was imposed anywhere in the world. Read DCA Accident Investigator Frank Yeend's recollections of the investigation here.

VH-TVC was struck off the Register having flown 16,942 hours with 21,780 cycles.


(Photos: Top-Eddie Coates collection; Bottom-Geoff Wilkes collection; Information-Fred Niven)

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