On 2 October 1971 at 10.10 h British European Airways Flight 706, scheduled from London to Salzburg crashed near Aarsele in Belgium. Minutes before the crash the pilot sent out a a distress signal and he tried to make an emergency landing. The plane, a Vickers Vanguard (G-APEC), was damaged at an altitude of 5790 meters when the elevators and tailplane were destroyed by a rupture in the rear pressure bulkhead. The bulkhead was weakened by corrosion from a suspected leak in the lavatory.
|Vickers Vanguard G-APEC at London Heathrow in 1965|
All 55 passengers, 37 Brits, 8 Austrians, 6 Americans and 4 Japanese, and 8 crew members were killed on impact. A piece of the aircraft debris struck the windshield of a passing car, causing minor injuries by glass splinters to the driver. The wreckage of the plane were scattered over the whole area. A small portion of the fuselage and the tail were found in the cemetery of Aarsele.
|Firemen at the crash site in Aarsele, Belgium|
|Monument at the cemetery of Aarsele.|
Inspections of other Vickers Vanguard planes revealed similar corrosion in eight other aircraft. Inspection procedures were revised and the plane was modified to improve access to the inspected area. The frequency of inspections was increased considerably.
Funeral chapel of victims at the crash site Aarsele (BRT News 7 October 1971)