Antarctic Sightseeing Flight Crashes

Air New Zealand Flight 901 (TE901) was a scheduled Antarctic sightseeing flight from Auckland Airport in New Zealand.

The Antarctic sightseeing flights were operated with McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 aircraft and began in February 1977. On 28 November 1979 the 14th flight crashed into Mount Erebus, killing all 237 passengers and 20 crewmembers aboard.

Beginning in February 1977, Air New Zealand offered tourist overflights from Auckland to the Antarctic. These flights were quite popular--in 1979 four were offered. They flew the route shown at left (from the information brochure). The last of these scheduled flights, Flight TE 901, a DC-10 with 237 passengers and 20 crew, took off from Auckland at 0820 on 28 November, on what was supposed to be an 11-hour turnaround flight. But it crashed into the side of Mt. Erebus at 1249, killing all aboard.

The loss of radio contact was noted at McMurdo, and Air NZ was soon notified that communications had been lost. Soon after 2130, the itme when the DC-10 would have run out of fuel, two VXE-6 LC-130 aircraft returning from Pole and Byrd were diverted to search. Both LC-130's spotted the crash site and the wreckage at about 0100 on 29 November. Helicpter search parties reached the crash site at about 0900, and they quickly confirmed that the wreckage was from the ANZ aircraft, and that there were no survivors.