Boeing 707 G-AVTW
Rio - November 1972
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Caledonian livery...with the Red Arrows At JFK in Caledonian//BUA livery...and Pan Am 747 April 1973 - BCal livery - TAP registration
Caledonian livery...with the Red Arrows At JFK in Caledonian//BUA livery...and Pan Am 747 April 1973 - BCal livery - TAP registration
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G-AVTW, County of Ayr, was Caledonian's second Boeing 707 to be delivered. Her first test flight was on 15th December 1967 and she was delivered and entered the British Register soon after on 29th December 1967.

For a new aircraft she would not remain long in service, she was sold to TAP of Portugal in 1973 and left the British Register on 11th April that year.

Most of her time with Caledonian was spent flying the Atlantic on charters and a few photos exist of her at JFK. She also spent a month on lease to BOAC too, that was 11th March - 18th April 1969.

But she did see operations under Caledonian//BUA and also British Caledonian, though these photos are somewhat harder to come across. But of course they are here as is probably her last photo on transfer to TAP with her in basic BCal livery wearing her Portuguese registration.
Though in November 1972 she suffered from some fairly major issues when a tyre exploded in the wheel well after take off from Rio de Janeiro. Phil Bowell was onboard that day and has recounted the events he experienced that flight and subsequent investigation and work to repair Tango Whisky from the BCal incident report.

Phil's recollections

It was quite a flight. I had gone down to South America on a duty trip - it was menu change time - also one of the first B 707 flights to South America.

As I recall, we took off basically on time and headed north to Recife. It was always a great night-time departure from Rio. I was sitting in economy in the emergency exit above the wing - extra leg room. We had reached the climb height and had settled into the flight.

The sound of the explosion was incredible and basically right underneath me. Passengers and cabion crew were obviously very worried. One of the girls came and asked if I knew what it was and could I see anything out of the window, too which I replied no. Shortly after a member of the flight deck crew (engineer I think) also came back to me and asked a few questions but I could not help much.

After a few minutes, the Captain came on the tannoy and advised we were turning back to Rio as the hotel accommodation was better there (after landing, he mentioned to me that actually it was because fire cover was better but he did not want to say that and scare the passengers any more than they already were.

The descent and low speed handling was bumpy and quite scary, but that was nothing compared to the actual landing. The captain did a great job and we all were very relieved to get on the ground.

We could not see much that night and really just wanted to get back to the hotel bar.

The following morning I was out at the aircraft with the crew and could not believe the mess the aircraft was in. Sadly I did not get any pictures and am not sure if anyone has any?

The Incident Report

Take off from Rio at about 2145 GMT was normal in all respects, at a take-off weight of about 123,000 kgs. Everything remained normal until arriving at cruising altitude of FL 330 about 35 minutes after take-off. Then, almost immediately after levelling off and cruise EPR being set up, there was a loud explosion, the origin of which seemed to be immediately under the flight deck floor. This was accompanied by a severe jolt in the airframe.

An immediate survey of flight deck instrumentation showed no abnormalities, and a rapid report from the cabin staff indicated nothing untoward apart from a complement of shaken passengers.

The initial conclusion arrived at was that a nose wheel tyre had burst, but when the Engineering Officer went below to inspect the nose wheel assembly, it was found impossible to do so since the nose wheel-well light was in-operative.

During crew discussion regarding the origin of the incident, it was noticed that a hydraulic pressure gauge showed an abnormally high pressure, indicating a pressure of 4,000 psi against a normal pressure of 3,000 psi. A suggestion of an explosion within the hydraulic system itself was discounted by the Engineering Officer.

The Captain made an announcement to the passengers assuring them that all was well and at regular intervals thereafter (until the aircraft had landed). Further announcements were made as to serviceability and the safety of the aircraft and also to the effect that in the unlikely event that something might go wrong to follow the cabin staff instructions.

Meanwhile the decision was taken to return to Rio de Janeiro since engineering and traffic facilities were available there which were not present at Recife. However, it was necessary to continue towards Recife for some 20 minutes more, since great difficulty was experienced in establishing communication with the controlling ground stations and having finally established communications to then make them understand the aircraft requirements.

During this time, the Engineering Officer announced that the hydraulic system was losing fluid but he was able to partially control this loss by means of a mixture of cycling hydraulic pumps on and off, after various combinations had been tried. By this method, the loss of fluid was at a very low rate, and this problem did not seriously affect the operation again.

Having received clearance to return to Rio de Janeiro, the en route time was used to carryout an examination of the main gear wells (which proved fruitless) and to rehearse various drills which it may be necessary to employ.

Although the landing was to be made at close to maximum permitted landing weight, it was decided not to jettison fuel so that, in the event of having to overshoot due to some serious damage being discovered at or near landing, there would be ample fuel supplies to stand off and review the problem.

Slightly unorthodox use was made of the hydraulic system undercarriage selector and other hydraulic services on the descent in order to conserve hydraulic fluid. In fact the landing was in effect textbook; except for some vibration during the landing roll.


This incident became the subject of an investigating team from Gatwick, and subsequently a full repair team from the Boeing Company. The provisional inspection revealed the following damage:

1) The inboard forward main wheel tyre on the starboard undercarriage U/C leg was deflated and “mashed” up.

2) The starboard main wheel well door was completely missing, and the port door severely damaged.

3) The fairing on the starboard main leg side stay was torn and its lower end with jagged pieces protruding.

4) A section of the under wing skin immediately adjacent to the starboard main wheel well door was partly detached and some items of equipment attached to it had become detached. Also, the hydraulic pipe for the anti-skid return line associated with this main wheel assembly was fractured.

5) A hole had been punched in the outer skin of the port main wheel well door.

6) A section of the fairing on top of the wing, covering the wing/fuselage joint on the starboard side was missing. This section was approximately 10 feet long.

7) The lower surface of the port fillet flap was bent and the skin broken in two pieces.

8) The starboard fuselage skin was scuffed from station 920 to 950 between stringers 14 and 17.

9) The starboard tail plane leading edge was severely scratched, with scratches extending rearwards along the lower surface to the stabiliser front span.

10) Extensive minor damage associated with items 1 to 9 above.


A full Boeing Company repair team positioned to Rio de Janeiro and a complete repair programme was carried out in situ at Galeao Airport. The aircraft was flown to Gatwick on 24.11.72.


The cause of the tyre bursting 35 minutes after take-off cannot be pinpointed with absolute certainty, but it is considered that a probable reason was that the tyre sustained damage either during taxying or on take-off at Rio de Janeiro. During the climb from sea level to 33,000 feet, the differential pressure (between the air inside the tyre remaining steady and the outside air pressure decreasing) would increase until the damaged tyre would be unable to maintain the pressure difference and burst.

There was no available report for the actual state of the taxiways or runway conditions at the time of departure, but the following points are known:

A) At least one taxiway had just been re-opened to traffic after extensive repairs


B) Every Friday, during extensive construction work on the Galeao Airport, dynamite was used for blasting rock etc. in the close proximity of the runway. The aircraft on this occasion, took off from Galeao Airport on the night of Friday 9.11.72.

As far as can be ascertained no taxiway or runway inspection was carried out on the day or night in question; and it is possible that debris from the excavation and construction blasting operation may have been deposited upon a taxiway or the runway, and this may have caused damage to the tyre concerned during taxying or take-off.

Goodyear Tyre Company having examined the tyre has stated their opinion that it blew out following damage incurred during service.

Following recommendations to the Office for Investigation and Prevention of Aeronautical Accidents (Brazil), the head of the centre has requested the authorities concerned for prevention measures against similar incidents of rock blasting near the runway at Galeao Airport.

Their action should be effective. End of Report.

TW's operational future

Tango Whisky spent over 11 years with TAP (Portugal) as CS-TBI, with the exception of a 2 month lease to Nigerian Airways in 1980. She was then leased by Dominicana Airlines in November 1983.

Dominicana later bought her in July 1984 and she became HI-442.  An inter-company re-registration saw her become HI-442CT in February 1989.

She is noted as being stored from January 1992.......a few years before the airline became inactive (1995) and they would cease operations in 1999.

But AVTW is still around, albeit a shadow of her former self. She is currently resting at the southern end of Santo Domingo's Las Americas International Airport in the Dominican Republic.
HI-442CT at Las Americas Airport (2015) Photo by Ander Aguirre Photo by Michael Fabry (2012)
HI-442CT at Las Americas Airport (2015) Photo by Ander Aguirre Photo by Michael Fabry (2012)
But as I am sure you know by now........I never end on a photo like that......and here we have

G-AVTW, in British Caledonian titles, taxying on to Runway 29 Left at Gatwick