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EXAMINATION  OF  COMETS

“NO  STRUCTURAL  WEAKNESS”

PUBLIC  INQUIRY  TO  BE  HELD

 No structural weakness has been found in any of the  Comet aircraft which have been stripped and examined at London Airport since the loss of one of the Comet fleet off the island of Elba.  Further medical evidence is now being obtained in Italy on the signs and possibility of an explosion within the crashed aircraft.
 The Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation have announced that there will be a public inquiry into the cause of the disaster.
 The result of “careful examination” of the Comet aircraft now out of service was announced by British Overseas Airways Corporation on Saturday. The statement said: “The whole operational fleet is now at London Airport, and the last aircraft to come in, that from Tokyo, will be stripped for examination as soon as the others are completed.
 “The corporation is restarting normal crew training and familiarisation flights as from Monday, January 18. No passengers will be carried  until the last of the Comets in the fleet has been fully inspected.  The possibility of sabotage cannot be overlooked, and special security investigators are being sent to points along the route to the Far East.......
 “Makers of underwater television are preparing a set intended to be capable of use up to a depth of 600 ft.  Its effectiveness must naturally depend on the state of the sea floor in the Mediterranean off Elba and on the clarity of the water.”
 Although the B.O.A.C. statement mentions the possibility of sabotage, this does not mean that investigations are proceeding with this more in mind than any other likely cause.

MEDICAL  INVESTIGATIONS

 The statement was issued by B.O.A.C. on Saturday after a meeting in the hanger at London Airport, where the examination of Comet aircraft went on day and night last week . The meeting was held after the return from Elba of B.O.A.C. investigating medical officers. Among those who attended were  Sir Miles Thomas, chairman of  B.O.A.C., Sir Harold Whittingham, B.O.A.C.  director of medical services, Dr A S R Peffers, assistant director of medical services, who returned  from Elba on Friday, and Group Captain W K Stewart, officer in charge of the  R.A.F. Medical Establishment, Farnborough.
 Later on Saturday, Sir Harold Whittingham and Group Captain Stewart left for Rome to continue the medical  investigations which, in the absence  of reclaimed remains of the aircraft, B.O.A.C. stated, constituted the most effective line of investigation.
 The Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation announcement said that the Minister had decided that further investigation into the causes and circumstances of the loss of the Comet aircraft should take the form of a public inquiry. The statement continued: “This follows the announcement by the Italian Government that their preliminary investigation into the accident has established that it took place outside Italian territory and that they will therefore hand over to  H.M. Government the subsequent conduct of the investigation. The Italian Government has kindly consented to appoint two accredited representatives to assist the investigation. H.M. Government are greatly indebted to the Italian Government for their generous and unstinted efforts in the preliminary investigation.”

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AIR  MAILS  IN  LOST  COMET

 The Postmaster-General  has been advised that the B.O.A.C. Comet which crashed off Elba  carried mail from Bangkok, Karachi, Kuwait, and Rangoon. Air mails from Manila and Hongkong, and probably from Tokyo, were carried by the P.A.L. aircraft which crashed at Rome on Thursday.
 

From  THE TIMES  (London)   18th January, 1954
 

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