Widerøe Flight 710 - Flight

Flight

The accident aircraft was a four-engine de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7 Series 102, with serial number 28, built in 1980. It was bought used by Widerøe in 1985 and registered as LN-WFN on 8 November 1985. Its certificate of airworthiness was last renewed on 4 November 1987 and was valid until 30 November 1988. The aircraft had operated 16,934 hours and 32,347 cycles prior to its last flight. The last A-check took place on 15 April 1988, after which the aircraft had flown 147 hours and 30 cycles. The 58-year-old captain held a D-certificate issued 8 April 1981 and was last renewed on 11 December 1987. He took his initial license in 1949 and had worked as a pilot in Widerøe since 1 April 1960. At the time of his last renewal, he had flown 19,886 hours, of which 2,849 hours were with the Dash 7. He had completed periodical flight training with the Dash 7 on 8 March 1988. He had just come home from a six-week vacation in Spain.

The first officer was 31 years old and held a C-certificate which limited him to being first officer on the Dash 7. The certificate was issued on 5 January 1987 and had been valid for the Dash 7 since 23 February 1988. He had started his flight training in 1977 and had completed it in the United States in 1979. He was hired as a pilot for Widerøe on 6 February 1986, where he had originally served on the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter. He was checked out as first officer on the Dash 7 in February 1988. He had a total flight time of 6,458 hours, of which 85 were on the Dash 7. The flight attendant was 28 years old and had worked for Widerøe since 1983.

The aircraft had been used during the morning of 6 May on a multi-leg flight from Bodø Airport to Trondheim Airport, Værnes and back. It had then flown back to Trondheim where it changed crew. They had arrived at Trondheim with a flight at 18:50 on 5 May and left the hotel in Trondheim at 16:15 on 6 May. Flight 710 was scheduled to fly from Trondheim via Namsos Airport, Høknesøra; Brønnøysund Airport, Brønnøy; and Sandnessjøen Airport, Stokka. It departed Værnes at 19:23, one and a half hours after scheduled, because of technical problems with another different aircraft. Flight 710 had a crew of three: a captain, a first officer and a flight attendant. The aircraft was packed and therefore a jump seat in the cockpit was used by a passenger, bringing the number of people on board to 52.

The aircraft made a stop-over at Namsos, where sixteen of the passengers disembarked. This reduced the number of passengers on board to thirty-three, but the passenger occupying the jump seat continued to sit there on the next leg. The captain was the flying pilot for the segment. The aircraft departed Namsos at 20:07 and contacted Trondheim Air Traffic Control Center (ATCC) at 20:13 to receive permission to ascend to flight level 90 (FL 90), which was received. During the flight, the passenger in the jump seat held a conversation with the captain and asked several questions regarding the operations. The first officer did not participate in this discussions, and it was him which held radio contact with air traffic control and the airline's operations' center.

The first officer contacted the airline at 20:16 and informed that they expected to arrive at 20:32. At 20:20:29, the aircraft asked permission from Trondheim ATCC to switch to Brønnøysund Aerodrome Flight Information Service (AFIS), which is granted. The aircraft announced at 20:20:42 that they would start the descent and would switch to Brønnøysund AFIS. Contact was made at 20:22:34, at which time the aircraft announced it was 25 nautical miles (46 km; 29 mi) from the airport and at FL 80. AFIS informed that there is no known aircraft in the area and that runway 22 is in use; there was 5 knots (9 km/h; 6 mph) wind from southeast, 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph) visibility, a light shower and 6 °C (43 °F). At 20:23:22 the first officer held a 62-second conversation with the airline regarding ordering a taxi for one of the passengers so he could reach his connecting ferry.

The captain asked for the descent checklist at 20:24:24. The fasten seat belt sign was switched on and the flight attendant started the process of preparing the cabin for landing. At 20:24:46 the captain, as part of the checklist, informed the first officer that they would go down to 1,500 meters (5,000 ft) at Torghatten and then down to 170 meters (550 ft). This was followed first by a partially unreadable conversation between the captain and the first officers, which included if they were to fill fuel, and then an unreadable conversation between the captain and the jump seat passenger. The direction of the VHF omnidirectional radio range (VOR) and distance measuring equipment (DME) at Brønnøysund was checked at 20:26:37.

The approach checklist was started at 20:27:01, at which time the aircraft's altitude reached 500 meters (1,500 ft). The first point on the checklist were not readable, but the last three were. At 20:27:32 the captain asked for flaps and landing gear, which were immediately deployed by the first officer and resulted in the aircraft gaining 70 meters (200 ft) of altitude. The landing gears were confirmed locked at 20:28:00. Four seconds later the passenger asked the captain if there were reserve systems which could be used if the landing gear did not deploy properly. At this point the aircraft started the descent from 500 meters (1,500 ft).

AFIS asked for the aircraft's position at 20:28:10, and the first officer responded at 20:28:13 that it was 8 nautical miles (15 km; 9 mi) away. He asked AFIS for a wind check, and AFIS responded that it was from 220 degrees and 8 knots (15 km/h; 9 mph). The first officers confirmed the information at 20:28:24. The aircraft reached 170 meters (550 ft) altitude and remained at that height for the rest of the flight. A short conversation was initiated by the passenger at 20:28:55. Three seconds later, the captain asked for "25 degrees flaps and props fully fine". This was confirmed by the first officer two seconds later. The pre-landing checklist was completed between 20:29:04 and :19.

The autopilot had been used since 25 seconds after take-off from Namsos and was used for the remainder of the flight. From 20:29:21 all four motors showed increasing torque and immediately before the crash the aircraft had shifted its angle from −2.5 degrees to 5 degrees. At 20:29:29 the ground proximity warning system showed 'minimum'. The aircraft crashed into the western side Torghatten at 20:29:30 at 170 meters (560 ft) elevation.

The aircraft flew into the mountain at an angle of 15 to 20 degrees, with the starboard side towards the mountain. The aircraft was ascending at a seven-degree angle, plus/minus one degree. The tip of the starboard wing was the first to hit the mountain, followed by engine number four (the right-most). The engine was immediately teared off and the aircraft started to rotate. The aircraft started being teared in the back rib of the starboard wing. Then the noise and port wing from engine number two (the inner) hit a depression in the mountain-face, causing engine number one to loosen from its nacelle and the port wing to break between the engines. At the same time the aircraft's body was broken in two. The aircraft's forward movement stopped, the wreck pieces rotated with the vertical stabilizer away from the mountain-side, the port wing caught on fire and exploded and the rest of the aircraft fell down the slope. On the way down, the starboard wing caught on fire.

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