Date: March 3rd, 1974
Type: DC-10-10
Registration: TC-JAV
Operator: THY (Turkish Air)
Where: Bois d' Ermenonville, France
Report No.: Not Available
Report Date: -
Pages: -

This is not an accident investigation report.

On Sunday 3rd March 1974 THY Turkish Airlines DC-10 flight 981, which had taken off from Orly airport Paris and had been in the air for about 10 minutes dived into the forest of Ermenonville north of Paris killing all 346 people on board. Among the jet's passengers were about 200 English rugby supports flying home from an France-England match. The reason for the disaster was that a cargo door, which had been improperly latched by a cargo baggage handler, flew open and the hull of the aircraft simply disintegrated under the strain of the sudden depressurisation. Normally aircraft doors are "PLUG" doors opening inwards, cargo doors have to open outwards due to space limitations. The elaborate system of latches on this type of door ensure that the door cannot be shut until a manually operated lever is all the way down in its slot. However the locking system was not infallible and the operating lever was not pushed into its proper position causing the door to fly open during the flight. When the door blew open this caused damage to the aircrafts floor which contained the vital control cables and hydraulics which control the aircraft in flight.

TC-JAV (46704/29) Turk Hava Yollari - THY
346 fatalities / 346 occupants +
Phase: Climb from: Paris-Orly to: London-Heathrow APT Flightnr.: TK981
PROBABLE CAUSE: "The accident was the result of the ejection in flight of the aft cargo door on the left-hand side: the sudden depressurization which followed led to the disruption of the floor structure, causing six passengers and parts of the aircraft to be ejected, rendering No.2 engine inoperative and impairing the flight controls (tail surfaces) so that it was impossible for the crew to regain control of the aircraft. The underlying factor in the sequence of events leading to the accident was the incorrect engagement of the door latching mechanism before take-off. The characteristics of the design of the mechanism made it impossible for the vent door to be apparently closed and the cargo door apparently locked when in fact the latches were not fully closed and the lock pins were not in place. It should be noted, however that a view port was provided so that there could be a visual check of the engagement of the lock pins. This defective closing of the door resulted from a combination of various factors: - incomplete application of Service Bulletin 52-37; - incorrect modifications and adjustments which led, in particular, to insufficient protrusion of the lock pins and to the switching off of the flight deck visual warning light before the door was locked; - the circumstances of the closure of the door during the stop at Orly, and, in paticular, the absence of any visual inspection, through the viewport to verify that the lock pins were effectively engaged, although at the time of the accident inspection was rendered difficult by te inadequate diameter of the view port. Finally, although there was apparent redundancy of the flight control systems, the fact that the pressure relief vents between the cargo compartment and the passenger cabin were inadequate and that all the flight control cables were routed beneath the floor placed the aircraft in grave danger in the case of any sudden depressurization causing substantial damage to that part of the structure. All these risks had already become evident, nineteen months earlier, at the time of the Windsor accident, but no efficacious corrective action had followed." (Aircraft Accident Report 8/76)

Link to similar incident on June 12, 1972