| Nantes, France|
5 March 1973
| Mid-air collision caused by ATC error|
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32
London Heathrow Airport
London, United Kingdom
Palma de Mallorca Airport, Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport
Iberia Airlines Flight 401, Aeroflot Flight 141, Balkan Bulgarian Airlines Fl, Iberia Airlines Flight 062, Aeroflot Flight 3932
The 1973 Nantes mid-air collision was a collision between aircraft of two Spanish airlines above Nantes, France on 5 March 1973. The aircraft involved were a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 of Iberia, operating as Flight 504 from Palma de Mallorca to London; and a Convair CV-990 of Spantax operating from Madrid to London as Flight 400. All 68 people on board the DC-9 were killed. The CV-990 was able to make a successful emergency landing at Cognac – Châteaubernard Air Base.
1973 Nantes mid-air collision Wikipedia
The Iberia flight was a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 carrying 61 passengers and 7 crew from Palma de Mallorca Airport to London Heathrow Airport, the plane had two Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7 jet engines. Its registration was EC-BII, E/n msn: 47077/148, and its first flight was in 1967.
The Spantax flight was a Convair CV-990-30A-5 Coronado carrying 8 crew and 99 passengers. The jet departed in Madrid and was to land at London. It had 4 General Electric CJ805-23s, its registration was EC-BJC, C/n / msn: 30-10-22 and its first flight in 1962. It was on a non scheduled passenger flight.
Iberia Flight 504, a DC-9, departed Palma de Mallorca at 11:24 on a flight to London. At 12:19 the crew called Marina Control and reported at FL310, estimating they would be at Nantes VOR at 12:52. At 12:36 the crew were told to contact Menhir Control and descend to FL290. At the same time a Spantax Convair CV-990, flight BX400 heading for London, was flying towards the Nantes VOR on the same altitude, but on a different airway. Because of this, the crew of the Convair were instructed to arrive at the VOR at 13:00. Because the Convair was already quite close to the VOR, the crew asked for confirmation of these instructions. At 12:40 the controller told them to 'Stand by' and replied two minutes later. Because the aircraft was at the ATC sector boundary the crew could barely hear the Marina controller who instructed them to contact Menhir control. The pilot erroneously thought that he had to contact Menhir control when passing the Nantes VOR. In order to delay their arrival at the VOR, the Spantax crew twice tried to request permission to carry out a 360-degree turn. When they did not get any answer from Marina, they initiated the turn without clearance. While in an overcast, the Convair collided with the DC-9. The CV-990 lost an outboard portion of its left wing, but managed to carry out an emergency landing at Cognac – Châteaubernard Air Base (CNG). The DC-9 lost control and crashed, killing all 61 passengers and 7 crew. Jimi Hendrix's manager, Michael Jeffery, was amongst the fatalities of the crash. The air traffic control system had been taken over that day by military personnel because of a strike of the civilian controllers.