Saturday, 28 November 2020

Remembering Air New Zealand Flight 901

Air New Zealand Flight 901 (TE-901) was a scheduled Air New Zealand Antarctic sightseeing flight that operated between 1977 and 1979. The flight would leave Auckland Airport at 8am, spend a few hours flying over the Antarctic continent, before returning to Auckland via Christchurch arriving in Christchurch at 7pm. It would sit on the ground in Christchurch for 45 minutes and then depart for Auckland, arriving there at 9pm. On the 28th November 1979, the fourteenth flight of TE-901, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30, with 237 passengers and 20 crew on board, flew into Mount Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica, killing all on board. The accident became known as the Mount Erebus disaster. (Mount Erebus is the second-highest volcano in Antarctica (after Mount Sidley) and the southernmost active volcano on Earth. It is the sixth-highest ultra mountain on the continent. With a summit elevation of 3,794 metres (12,448 ft), it is located in the Ross Dependency on Ross Island, which is also home to three inactive volcanoes: Mount Terror, Mount Bird, and Mount Terra Nova. The initial investigation concluded the accident was caused by pilot error, but public outcry led to the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the crash. The commission concluded that the accident was caused by a correction made to the coordinates of the flight path the night before the disaster, coupled with a failure to inform the flight crew of the change, with the result that the aircraft, instead of being directed by computer down McMurdo Sound (as the crew had been led to believe), was instead re-routed to a path toward Mount Erebus. Justice Mahon's report accused Air New Zealand of presenting "an orchestrated litany of lies" and this led to changes in senior management at the airline. The Privy Council later ruled that the finding of a conspiracy was a breach of natural justice and not supported by the evidence. The accident is New Zealand's deadliest peacetime disaster, as well as the deadliest accident in the history of Air New Zealand. ZK-NZP was the 182nd DC-10 to be built, and the fourth DC-10 to be serviced by Air New Zealand. The aircraft first flew on the 8th November and was handed over to the airline on the 12th December 1974 at McDonnell Douglas's Long Beach plant.

Nationalities of passengers and crew
The nationalities of the passengers and crew included:

Country  / Passengers / Crew  Total
New Zealand 180 / 20 / 200
Japan 24 
United States 22 
United Kingdom 6 
Canada 2 
Australia 1 
France 1 
Switzerland 1 
Total 237 / 20 / 257

Aircraft Information
Airline: Air New Zealand
Code: NZ / ANZ
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30
Registration: ZK-NZP
Serial Number: 46910
Engines: 3 x GE CF6-50C2
First Flight: 08/11/1974
Age: 5 Yrs Old

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