Varig Flight 820
A Varig Boeing 707-379C similar to the one involved in the accident
|Date||11 July 1973|
|Summary||In-flight fire, leading to loss of controls and belly landing|
|Site||near Orly, France 48°45′N 2°24′E / 48.750°N 2.400°ECoordinates: 48°45′N 2°24′E / 48.750°N 2.400°E|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 707-320C|
|Flight origin||Galeão International Airport, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|Stopover||Orly Airport, Paris, France|
|Destination||Heathrow Airport, London|
Varig Flight 820 was a flight of the Brazilian airline Varig that departed from Galeão International Airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 11, 1973, for Orly Airport, in Paris, France. The plane, a Boeing 707 registration PP-VJZ, made an emergency landing on onion fields about four kilometers from Orly Airport, due to smoke in the cabin from a fire in one of the toilets. The fire caused 123 deaths; there were only 11 survivors (ten crew members and one passenger).
Flight 820's problems began when a fire started in a rear lavatory. Crew members moved to the front of the airplane toward the emergency exit, as many passengers in the rear of the plane inhaled smoke. Prior to the forced landing, many of the passengers had already died of smoke inhalation. The aircraft landed in a field 5 km short of the runway, in a full-flap and gear down configuration.
Only one passenger survived, while the major part of the crew left the plane by the emergency exit at the top of the cockpit.
A possible cause of the fire was that the lavatory waste bin contents caught fire after a lit cigarette was thrown into it, the FAA issued AD 74-08-09 requiring "installation of placards prohibiting smoking in the lavatory and disposal of cigarettes in the lavatory waste receptacles; establishment of a procedure to announce to airplane occupants that smoking is prohibited in the lavatories; installation of ashtrays at certain locations; and repetitive inspections to ensure that lavatory waste receptacle doors operate correctly".
Notable passengers who died included:
- Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 707-345C PP-VJZ Paris-Orly Airport (ORY)". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
- "Death in the Air: Fire and Fumes." Time. 23 July 1973. Retrieved on 8 December 2010.(subscription required)