A Great British Air Disaster

A Great British Air Disaster


The De Havilland Comet was the world’s first passenger jet airliner, a shining, streamlined thing of beauty that made the dream of international jet travel real in the early 50s. As this excellent film relates, it was also a very British triumph – the standard bearer for our aviation industry.

Then, in 1954, a Comet exploded in mid-air off Italy killing all 35 crew and passengers. It wasn’t the first Comet crash and it wasn’t to be the last, but the way the subsequent investigation unfolded turned out to be as pioneering as the plane itself, a landmark in making mass air travel safe – but sadly, also a landmark in the decline of British manufacturing.


The rise and fall of the De Havilland Comet, the world's first passenger jet airliner, once considered a triumph for the British aviation industry. Designed during the Second World War, it proved an instant hit with the public when it came into service in 1952, but then, in the space of just four months in 1954, two aircraft blew up in mid-air, killing all passengers and crew. On the direct order of prime minister Winston Churchill, a team of leading aviation experts was assembled to discover what had gone wrong.