Air accident on the Leopoldsberg from 1955
In the 1955 Leopoldsberg air crash, a Convair CV-340-58 of the Yugoslavian airline JAT collided with the terrain on approach to Vienna Airport in dense fog, killing 7 of the 29 occupants.
The plane had taken off from Belgrade airport at 1:30 p.m., the route was to be to London with a scheduled stopover in Vienna. On board were 25 passengers and four crew members. The pilot in command on this flight was Romeo Adun, his co-pilot Rista Kostic.
The approach to Vienna Airport was planned on runway 12/30 with an approach over the south, along the Danube upstream, at 15:30. Due to the dense fog in Vienna, an extended holding loop was flown. Due to the weather, only one other aircraft decided to land in Schwechat. The other aircraft flew to alternative airports, such as Linz-Hörsching Airport. The aircraft made radio contact with the tower in Vienna at 15:25 and requested permission to land. The tower granted permission and gave instructions to remain at 3,500 feet (1,000 m) and, upon reaching the landing course transmitter, to turn onto the runway course and begin descending. The pilots turned onto the runway course of 113° at 3:30 p.m. via an initiated left turn and, after renewed radio contact, were cleared to land. The landing gear and flaps were then extended and the descent commenced
At an altitude of just under 400 metres, the aircraft touched tree tops on the 425-metre-high Leopoldberg, whereupon the pilots realised the error and were still trying to steer the aircraft upwards. Eyewitnesses reported the impact at 15:42 near the Josefinenhütte on the Wiener Höhenstraße.
The plane broke in two, with the front section completely destroyed. The captain and six other occupants died in the impact, 17 others were injured. The co-pilot was ejected from the cockpit and survived the accident seriously injured. Six people survived the accident uninjured and were able to leave the wreckage on their own.
The Convair 340-58 with the serial number 178 had been in service with JAT since 1954. JAT received two more CV-340s in the same year, one of which crashed on 22 December 1956 on approach to Munich-Riem Airport near Grub and the other on 4 February 1961 in Titograd.
Cause of accident
The accident was investigated by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation in Vienna. The Aircraft Accident Commission determined that the accident was due to an excessively wide turn before landing, with an associated loss of orientation and the resulting misinterpretation of the flight altitude. The pilots flew along the Danube upstream for eight minutes, strayed north of the Kahlenberg and were thus further north of their presumed position. Turning onto the landing course transmitter in the extension of the runway, they began their approach, flying directly towards the mountainside. The survivors reported that the pilots had pulled the aircraft up shortly before the collision, probably preventing even greater loss of life.
The wreckage was transported away from the accident site three days later and, after being examined by the authorities, was bought and sold by a scrap dealer from Vienna. The Austrian Tourist Club erected a memorial stone flanked by two cypress trees at the crash site on April 21, 1956.
- CV-340 YU-ADC accident report, Aviation Safety Network (English), retrieved 8 December 2017.
- Air disaster on the Leopoldsberg. In: Arbeiter-Zeitung. Vienna 11 October 1955, p. 1( The website of the Arbeiterzeitung is currently being redesigned. The linked pages are therefore not accessible. – digital copy).