ACCIDENT OF ZK-NZP (46910/182)
November 28th 1979, time: 00:50

NTSB report / statistics

At 19.17h (27 November) Flight TE901 took off for a scenic flight from Auckland, proceeding over South Island, Auckland Islands, Baleny Islands and Cape Hallett to McMurdo (Antarctica) The flight would then return via Cape Hallett and Campbell Island to Christchurch.Approaching Ross Island it appeared that the area which was approved by the operator for VMC descents below 16000ft was obscured by cloud. The crew decided to descend in a clear area to the (true) North of Ross Island in two descending orbits. The aircraft's descent was continued to 1500ft on the flight planned track back toward Ross Island for its next turning point, Williams Field, McMurdo. The aircraft however, was actually flying 1,5mls East of its flight-planned track.Shortly after reaching 1500ft the GPWS sounded. Go around power was applied but the aircraft struck the slope of Mt Erebus at 1465ft. The aircraft broke up and caught fire. The PROBABLE CAUSE as submitted by the Commission of Inquiry read: "The decision of the captain to continue the flight at low level toward an area of poor surface and horizon definition when the crew was not certain of their position and the subsequent inability to detect the rising terrain which intercepted the aircraft's flight path." An investigation by the Royal Commission of Inquiry revealed other facts. It appeared for instance that in three years of Antarctic flights, the final waypoint had been changed from longitude 166deg 48.0' E (the Williams Field NDB) to 164deg 48.9' E by mistake, routeing 7 flights down the middle of McMurdo Sound. On the day of the accident, by misunderstanding, the waypoint was set to 166deg 58.0' E (the TACAN close by the NDB) routing the planned track over Mount Erebus on Ross Island. "The dominant cause of the disaster was the act of the airline in changing the computer track of the aircraft without telling the air crew." Contributing where a.o. the lack of any chart showing a printed route, the change of the co-ordinate without the knowledge of the crew and the effects of sector whiteout.

Total airframe hrs: 20763 hours
Crew: 20 fatalities / 20 on board
Passengers: 237 fatalities / 237 on board
Total: 257 fatalities / 257 on board
Location: Mt Erebus, Antarctica ()
Phase: Cruise
Nature: Non Scheduled Passenger
Flight: Auckland IAP - Christchurch IAP (Flightnumber 901)

Source: Aviation Safety Network / NTSB