Turkish Airlines
DC-10 "TC-JAV Ankara"
Just Before Crash Diorama
Kit: Kitech No:DF335
Date Started: 24 September 2007
.Date Finished: 11 December 2007
Page  1  of  3

On Sunday March 3, 1974 flight TK981 departed Istanbul for a flight to Paris and London. The DC-10 landed at Paris-Orly at 10:02 and taxied to stand A2. There were 167 passengers on board, of whom 50 disembarked. The aircraft was refueled and bagage was loaded onto the plane. The planned turnaround time of one hour was delayed by 30 minutes. An additional 216 passengers embarked. Most of the passengers were booked on this flight because of a strike at British Airways. When all preparations were complete the flight received permission to taxi to Runway 08 at 11:24. Four minutes later the crew were cleared to line up for departure and were cleared for departure route 181 and an initial climb to flight level 40. The aircraft took off at approximately 11:30 hours and was cleared by Orly Departure to climb to FL60, which was reached at 11:34. The North Area Control Centre then cleared TK981 further to FL230. Three or four seconds before 11:40:00 hours, the noise of decompression was heard and the co-pilot said: "the fuselage has burst" and the pressurization aural warning sounded. This was caused by the opening and separation of the aft left-hand cargo door. The pressure difference in the cargo bay and passenger cabin, the floor above the cargo door partly collapsed. Two occupied triple seat units were ejected from the aircraft. All the horizontal stabilizer and elevator control cables routed beneath the floor of the DC-10 and were thus also severely disrupted. Also the nr.2 engine power was lost almost completely. The aircraft turned 9 deg to the left and pitched nose down. The nose-down attitude increased rapidly to -20 deg. Although the nr.1 and 3 engines were throttled back the speed increased to 360 kts. The pitch attitude then progressively increased to -4 degrees and the speed became steady at 430 kts (800 km/h). At a left bank of 17 degrees the DC-10 crashed into the forest of Ermenonville, 37 km NE of Paris. All 346 persons aboard, including 12 crew members perished. The main wreckage was strewn over an area approximately 2,300 feet (700 m) long and 300 feet (90 m) wide, some 25 miles north-north-east of Paris. There were only a few small post crash fires, as there were virtually no pieces large enough to burn.

THE CAUSE: The accident was the result of the ejection in flight of the aft cargo door on the left-hand side: the sudden depressurization which followed led to the disruption of the floor structure, causing six passengers and parts of the aircraft to be ejected, rendering No.2 engine inoperative and impairing the flight controls (tail surfaces) so that it was impossible for the crew to regain control of the aircraft.
The underlying factor in the sequence of events leading to the accident was the incorrect engagement of the door latching mechanism before take-off. The characteristics of the design of the mechanism made it possible for the vent door to be apparently closed and the cargo door apparently locked when in fact the latches were not fully closed and the lock pins were not in place.

Company records indicating that the suggested modifications had been completed on TC-JAV, prior to its delivery to the airline in December 1972, proved to be erroneous. Although adjustments to the lock limit warning switch were made, the work was not in accordance with aeronautical standards. The installation of the viewing port, one modification that had been carried out, could alone have prevented the tragedy, had somebody used it to make a visual inspection prior to the takeoff. The warning placard was also in place, but of no use for two reasons. First it had been printed in English, which the Algerian born baggage handler could not read, and perhaps more importantly, the design of the mechanism and the shodiness of the modifications made it possible to pull down the locking lever, bending the internal components, without the use of any abnormal force. The faulty design also accounted for the fact that a warning light on the flight engineers panel had failed to illuminate, indicating that the door was not locked.

Finally, although there was apparent redundancy of the flight control systems, the fact that the pressure relief vents between the cargo compartment and the passenger cabin were inadequate and that all the flight control cables were routed beneath the floor placed the aircraft in grave danger in the case of any sudden depressurization causing substantial damage to that part of the structure.

In memory of the victims, I thought of building a diorama, the plane having touched the forest trees just before the impact.


September 24, 2007:
I cut out the opening of the aft cargo door, which was the causing element of the disaster.
I thinned the plastic at the door edges to eliminate the off-scale plastic thickness.
From what I read about a very similar accident, American Airlines DC-10, June 1972, who had managed to land with injured passengers, I ripped the surrounding panels of the door opening.
I put a piece of styrene inside the fuselage to depict the cargo floor.
September 25, 2007:
I drilled the lower nose and inserted a piece of clip wire, and fixed with CA glue. This wire will hold the plane in the air, being disguised by the trees below.
September 26, 2007:
I joined the fuselage halves and filled the landing gear cavities with styrene, followed by puttying and sanding.
September 29, 2007:
I painted the body white.
November 05, 2007:
The reports of AA accident declared that the cargo door had hit the leading edge of the left stabilizor and also made some destruction on the upper plates. To depict this, I made a foil-copy of the left stabilizor.
November 06, 2007:
I made a dent on the leading edge and some torn effects on the upper side of the foil. I cut recesses on the plastic original, where these dents would be, to open up space for the crushed and ripped metal. Then I fixed the foil on the master with CA glue.
November 12, 2007:
I painted the underbody and wings with Testors Aluminum metalizer and the coroguard with Humbrol 27.
November 29, 2007:
I made the decals with CorelDraw, and printed them. Then I applied the decals on the body.
I sprayed clear gloss varnish to overcome any edge-liftings of the decals and to suppress the thickness of the decals on the body.