Exactly five decades after from the Staines Air Disaster, Stephen Skinner recounts the background and subsequent investigation into the UK’s deadliest air accident
Fifty years ago, on Sunday, June 18, 1972 at just after 1600hrs, BEA Trident G-ARPI (c/n 2109) began its take-off run from Heathrow’s Runway 27R for the short hop to Brussels. Just two-and-a-half minutes later a young boy saw the Trident descending at 4,500ft/min and crash almost immediately. The child summoned help and the emergency services arrived quickly but all 118 on board were already dead. The task of determining the cause of the tragedy now fell to the Accidents Investigation Branch (then part of the Department for Trade and Industry) at Farnborough. Such was the level of interest in the incident, a public inquiry, headed by Justice Geoffrey Lane was opened.