Comet Air Crashes in the 1950s

On top of his excellent work as the Forum’s Speaker Finder Duncan Verity occasionally entertains us with one of his own presentations. Aeronautics is one of his interests and on the 1st of October he introduced a video entitled Comet Air Crashes.

This described the introduction of the then-revolutionary Comet airliner in 1952 by BOAC.  The plane threatened to change air travel for ever but in 1953-4 suffered a number of disasters culminating in the loss of a flight from Rome to London into the sea off the island of Elba and the loss of 35 lives.  We learnt of the difficulties encountered in investigating the crash and how commercial pressures resulted in the resumption of Comet flights.  Unfortunately within weeks another Comet crashed in the sea on a flight from Rome to Cairo with the loss of a further 21 lives.  We learnt of the technical investigation into the crashes which eventually concluded that metal fatigue in the fuselage skin caused by faulty design and manufacturing methods was to blame.  A further investigation using modern methods has confirmed this conclusion.  Peter Osborne proposed a vote of thanks commenting that Duncan never fails to entertain.  He also thanked him for his continuing efforts  in arranging a succession of first class speakers to address the Forum.