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1957: BEA withdraws Viscount aircraft

British European Airways have withdrawn their fleet of Viscount 701s from service after one of them crashed at Manchester.

Twenty-two people died when a BEA Viscount came down on the edge of Manchester Ringway airport, close to a housing estate four days ago.

The crash was the first since the aircraft was introduced four years ago.

Up to 25 jets have been pulled while a special examination is carried out on the aircraft's flap operating mechanism.

A statement issued on behalf of BEA said: "This is purely a precautionary measure and it is expected that the Viscount 701 fleet will be back in service in a few days.

"As a result of this decision a number of BEA's services will be liable to delay or cancellation during the next few days."

A BEA official denied that the 701s had been grounded.

"Grounding implies an official instruction from the Ministry of Civil Aviation or Air Registration Board. But in this case the aircraft have only been withdrawn from service by agreement for a check to be carried out," he said.

Fifteen passengers and five crew were killed when a BEA Viscount crashed on March 14.

Two people also died on the ground as the aircraft struck one of the houses.

The Viscount was making its final approach for landing when it veered and crashed into a field.

Eye-witnesses spotted engines from the aircraft in gardens, yards away from the wreckage.

Rescue teams were on the scene within a few minutes and bodies were still being recovered several hours after the crash.

Since the accident, a number of flights have been cancelled including five at London airport last night.

In Context
The Viscount was back in the air within a week but it continued to be dogged by problems.

Several crashes followed, including one involving the Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes in February 1959.

Although he survived, 12 other people died in the disaster in Jordan's Wood near Newdigate in Surrey.

Between 1957 and 1974, 398 people were killed in 12 separate Viscount air crashes.

But it continued to fly until the 1980s.

The last British owned models were sold in South Africa where a small number are still in use.

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