Human error caused Durban plane crash

2011-10-04 19:30
Johannesburg - A 2009 plane crash in Merebank, Durban, happened because the pilot switched off the aircraft's only functioning engine, according to a SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) report released on Tuesday.

The investigation revealed that the right engine of the SA Airlink Jetstream 4100 failed, but that the aircraft could have continued the flight safely on one engine alone.

Instead of shutting down the malfunctioning engine, the pilot switched off the left engine - which was serviceable, although it had a worn seal plate.

The pilot, Captain Allister Freeman, tried to land on a school sports field in Merebank, 3km from Durban International Airport, when the plane floundered shortly after take-off on September 24.

Freeman died later in hospital of severe internal injuries suffered in the crash. The co-pilot, first officer Sonja Bierman and flight attendant Rudelle Oosthuizen were injured.

Municipal worker Abraham Mthethwa was injured when he was hit by the plane's wing.

In the report, the SACAA said the inappropriate crew response prompted a number of recommendations to prevent similar accidents in future. It would assess all aspects of engine inoperative training at flight schools and increase simulator training.

The SACAA had already introduced an audit of compliance with Air Operator Certificate requirements.

It also recommended to the United States' Federal Aviation Administration to see to it that the aircraft manufacturer find a solution for the engine defect identified.
Read more on:    caa  |  durban  |  air crashes

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