New claims on infamous Helderberg crash
Cape Town - An ex-SAA pilot has claimed to have crucial information which could shed light on what happened in the November 1987 Helderberg plane crash, EWN reported on Monday.
The Boeing aircraft crashed near Mauritius, killing all 159 passengers and crew, after a fire started on board the aircraft.
The crucial ZUR tapes recording communication with the aircraft famously went missing or were recorded over following the crash.
EWN reported that a retired pilot, Clair Fichardt, said a now deceased colleague at SAA, James Deale, confessed to him that he was ordered to give the ZUR tapes to the airline’s director of operations Mickey Mitchell in the presence of the CEO Gert van der Veer.
David Klatzow, an apparent Helderberg expert, was quoted as saying that this resolved the question of what happened to the tapes.
'Final piece of the jigsaw'
“It puts the final piece of the jigsaw into exactly what happened because we always knew that Mickey Mitchell had given that on to Gert van der Veer and this now makes it beyond doubt,” he said.
Van der Veer did not confirm or deny to the TRC that he had received the tapes and has not commented on the latest claim.
Several veteran SAA pilots said Fichardt’s claim must be examined carefully because he may have a vendetta against the airline and that it came just three weeks after Mitchell’s death.
A 2001 Scorpions investigation detailed pieces of conversation from the cockpit voice recorder such as "real big problem yeah, big problem, very difficult" and "we fly in their bomb".
Allegations were made in the media that the term "Boy George", which was also mentioned, referred to a nuclear bomb, but the Scorpions said this was not necessarily true.