Air crashes on the Mont Blanc

The stories of the Malabar Princess and Kanchenjunga tragedies on Mont Blanc have become deeply etched in the annals of aviation history. Both Air India flights were destined for Geneva, but tragically they ended up on the same mountain, the Mont Blanc, under eerily similar circumstances.

**Air India flight 245 – the “Malabar Princess” (1950)**
On 3rd November 1950, Air India Flight 245, aptly named the “Malabar Princess,” took off from Mumbai (then Bombay), India, with 48 passengers and crew on board. The Lockheed L-749A Constellation aircraft was making a stopover in Geneva before its final destination in London.

The flight’s course took it over the Alps, where Mont Blanc stands as the highest peak. Unfortunately, on this day, the mountain was shrouded in a heavy cloud. While descending for its landing in Geneva, the “Malabar Princess” struck the Rocher de la Tournette on the French side of Mont Blanc at an altitude of 4,677 meters. The crash resulted in the loss of all lives on board.

Weather conditions at the time were challenging, with low visibility due to the cloud cover. The exact cause of the crash is believed to be a navigation error, likely caused by a misunderstanding or miscommunication between the pilot and air traffic control regarding the aircraft’s altitude and position.

**Air India flight 101 – the “Kanchenjunga” (1966)**
The second tragedy struck almost 16 years later, on 24th January 1966, when Air India Flight 101, known as “Kanchenjunga,” crashed into Mont Blanc. Like the Malabar Princess, the Kanchenjunga, a Boeing 707, was also en route from Mumbai to Geneva, with a final destination of New York.

Carrying 117 passengers and crew, the plane was nearing its landing in Geneva. However, the flight deviated from its flight path and, just like its predecessor, collided with the mountain. The aircraft struck almost the same spot on Mont Blanc, with no survivors left in the wake of the tragedy.

The weather on this particular day was clear. Yet, the cause of the crash remains somewhat unclear. One theory suggests that the flight’s altimeter may have been set incorrectly, causing the aircraft to fly lower than the pilot thought. Others postulate navigational errors or a possible sudden downdraft as contributing factors.

**Similarities between the two flights**
Both crashes shared eerie similarities. Both flights were Air India planes, flying the same route, and destined for Geneva. They collided with almost the same location on Mont Blanc, leading to the tragic loss of all passengers and crew on board. In both cases, it is believed that navigation errors or miscommunication might have led to the fatal accidents.

These tragedies have left a profound imprint on Mont Blanc’s history, reminding us of the intricate interplay between human endeavour and the immutable power of nature.