On this day in history : 8th January 1989 – The Kegworth air disaster ~ A Boeing 737 crashes on to the M1 motorway near to East Midlands airport…. 47 people are killed….

A British Midland Boeing 737-400, similar to the aircraft which crashed – Pedro Aragao CC BY-SA 3.0

The British Midland operated Boeing 737, Flight 092, had taken off from Heathrow at 19.52hrs and was bound for Dublin, when one of the brand new aircraft’s engines caught fire – forcing it to divert to East Midlands airport….

It had begun its descent, passing low over the village of Kegworth in Leicestershire, when it was reported that the second engine had also failed…. The chances of this happening are a hundred million to one….

The plane crashed on to the motorway and broke into three pieces at 20.26hrs – thankfully no vehicles on the ground were caught in the impact…. The aircraft was just a few hundred metres from the runway….

Scene of the disaster – Image : Air Accidents Investigation Branch – OGL v1.0

The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch discovered a fan blade had broken in the left engine, causing the air conditioning to malfunction…. Subsequently the flight deck filled with smoke and the crew wrongly assumed a fault had occurred in the right engine…. Earlier models of the Boeing 737 had ventilated the flight deck from the right – but the new 737-400 series operated a different system – only the crew had not been made aware of this – and they had shut down the wrong engine….

Out of the 126 crew and passengers on board 47 were killed and 74 were seriously injured….

Site of the disaster – photo taken May 2006 – Andrew Tatlow – CC BY-SA 2.0

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