Pilot flew plane into the ground

2013-12-23 00:00

THE preliminary investigation of an aircrash in Namibia that claimed 33 lives has revealed that the pilot deliberately flew the plane straight into the ground.

The Mozambique airline (LAM) Embraer 190 was piloted by Captain Herminio dos Santos Fernandes and had 26 passengers and seven crew aboard when it crashed in northern Namibia at the beginning of the month.

According to a statement by Joao Abreu, head of the Mozambican civil aviation authority, who led the investigation, the pilot “consciously and deliberately” altered the automatic flight controls.

Both the cockpit voice recorder and the black box indicate that Fernandes locked himself into the cockpit after the co-pilot left to go to the toilet or to eat.

The voice recorder reveals loud knocking on the door and pleas for Fernandes to unlock it.

Alarms warning about dangerous speed and altitude readings can also be heard.

The black box reveals that Fernandes altered the plane’s altitude three times.

The plane was initially at 11 500 metres, and ended up at just 180 metres above sea level, lower than the ground where it crashed.

The plane, with Fernandes presumably at the controls and slowing down, lost height until it crashed into the ground and caught fire.

Abreu said it is not clear why Fernandes crashed the plane. He was an experienced pilot with more than 9 000 hours’ flying time and had passed a medical examination in September.

Last week, the investigators ruled out mechanical failure. The plane was one of the newest in the LAM fleet.

The crash happened in heavy rain in the north of Namibia’s Bwabwata National Park.

— Media24. (Sources: Euronews,

BBC and AIM)

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