Comet inquiry
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I have been contacted by an investigator who has been looking into the two crashes of the Comet 1 in the 1950's.  He is in the process of finalizing his investigation and intends to write a book.  I have been authorized to include the following text as an introduction to this investigation.


"The Farnborough theory that the loss of De Havilland Comet 1s Yoke Peter and Yoke Yoke was caused by catastrophic structural failure was never completely accepted either at the time or since. Dissenting voices were raised at Lord Cohen's official inquiry into the Comet disasters and no case against De Havillands, manufacturers of both the airframe and engine, ever went to court. 

It was pointed out at the time that there was a large discrepancy between airframe hours on the lost Comets and the 9,000 plus hours at which the fuselage of Yoke Uncle failed in the Farnborough test tank.

Recent forensic analysis has shown up further anomalies - it is not widely known for example that Yoke Uncle was subjected to far higher pressures in the test tank than she would ever have encountered in airline service, perhaps 50% more.  RAE Farnborough (Royal Armament Establishment Farnborough) do not appear to have adjusted for this in the report, nor does the report explain why no wing fracture was ever spotted on either Yoke Peter or Yoke Yoke, despite regular inspection of the wing by BOAC, yet it was generally agreed that the stresses on the wing in flight were greater than those imposed on the fuselage and the first fatigue cracks in Yoke Uncle showed up on the wing.

Other material discrepancies include the time in the test tank - each 24 hours in the tank represented 864 in airline service, but Yoke Uncle appears to have been in the tank for longer than the 9,000 hours figure (including service life) would suggest. Then there is the curious fact that only British Comets suffered fatigue failure - there was no evidence of cracking on the French Comet 1s, whose utilisation roughly matched that of BOAC, especially UTA's. The official airframe life figures for the Air France Comets also appears suspiciously low, given that they were flying regularly to Beirut.

The Royal Canadian Air Force also operated Comet 1s and refused to ground theirs, even after the Stromboli disaster. Although classified at the time it is now known that the RCAF were not using their Comets primarily as jet transports, but in the unarmed bombing role, simulating high speed high altitude penetration of North American airspace, with RCAF jet fighters mounting practice interceptions. There were no known fatigue problems with the Canadian Comets.

Another striking feature of the Comet story is the apparent strength of the Comet 4 and Nimrod, which were modified versions of the Comet 1 - the Comet 4 was an enormously strong aircraft, but was not that radical a redesign of the Comet 1. The Nimrod is still in service and scheduled to remain in service for at least 20 years."


Please come back often.  We will be updating this webpage and I can assure you that this will be yet another amazing story relating to the crash of commercial airlines in today's dangerous world.  Ever since my father was involved with the development of the Comet, I have always believed that the problem lay in the early design of this amazing machine.  See the COMET webpage above.