Vickers Viscount 832 VH-RMI

Vickers Viscount 832 VH-RMI (cn 416) was ordered by Ansett-A.N.A. in July 1958 as part of an order for four new Viscounts. It was built by Vickers at Hurn, UK, and first flown on 8 April 1959. It was registered VH-RMI on 23 April and departed Blackbushe, UK, the following day on delivery via the Mediterranean, India, French Indo-China (now Vietnam), the Phillippines and Dutch New Guinea (now Irian Jaya, Indonesia). Originally fitted with 52 seats, it was later modified to seat 56.

Some seven years after entering service, VH-RMI was operating flight AN149 from Mt Isa to Longreach, in outback Queensland, when a fire began in one of the pressurisation blowers located within the port wing. The fire quickly spread into the wing fuel tank and, thus fed, fatally weakened the wing spar. The crew commenced an emergency diversion to Winton after fire became visible from the cabin, but at approximately 5,000 ft the port wing separated and the aircraft exploded and crashed about 9 1/2 NM (17 km) from Winton with the loss of all 20 passengers and four crew.

The subsequent accident investigation, followed by a Public Inquiry, found that the oil supply to lubricate the cabin blower had failed due to a housing coming loose, probably because the nuts securing it had not been lockwired when the unit was last maintained. Read the recollections of the chief accident investigator here.


(Photos: Lindsay Wise)

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