Plane crash victims 'died on impact'

2011-08-16 22:45

Johannesburg - The head of disaster management said on Tuesday that the earliest indications were that the occupants of the Albatross aircraft which crashed in a mountainous area north-east of Tzaneen died on impact.

Hannes Steyn said that the planes were flying in formation when they crashed into a cliff at an altitude of 1 570m.

"They flew directly into the cliff. There was no mid-air collision," Steyn said

The search for the planes ended when the crash site was found at 08:15 on Tuesday on Mamotswiri Peak.

The bodies of all 13 occupants were found among the crash wreckage.

Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu said investigations into the crash are underway,  and that so far indications were that the two planes, caught fire after crashing.

"Investigators will now begin collecting what is needed from the wreckage," she said.

That would be taken for testing and the authority would also check on the qualifications of the pilots flying the aircraft.

Investigations could take from six months to a year but a preliminary report could be made before then.

Crisis centre set up

The Albatross aircraft took off from Tzaneen Airport in Limpopo on Sunday at 10:30. Both planes were bound for Rand Airport in Johannesburg, after participating in the Tzaneen air show.

They were reported missing at 13:30 on the same day.

There was also no mayday broadcast before the crash.

Bad weather and low cloud conditions initially hampered the search on Monday, Search and Rescue SA spokesperson Johnny Smit said.

Earlier on Tuesday, authorities released the names of all 13 people who died.

Those on board the aircraft with registration ZU MMI were pilot Brian Gruar and passengers Marrion Anderson, Maddison and Alexandra Doak, Tess Spence, Louise Warden and Kevin Woolacott.

On board the other plane, registration ZS NJX, were pilot Peter Gildenhuys, and passengers Stuart and Peter van Oldenburg, Frans Dely, Marietjie de Witt, and Linda Pierce. Dely was a well-known Johannesburg aviation photographer.

Limpopo police said the bodies would be flown to Pretoria on Wednesday for post mortems to be conducted.

"Their bodies will be flown to forensics and pathology in Pretoria, with assistance from the SA National Defence Force," said Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.

Families had  been informed about the deaths, but had not yet identified the victims, Mulaudzi said.

"They are receiving trauma counselling."

A crisis centre had been set up at the Rand airport.

  • Dips - 2011-08-16 23:12

    Basic rule is you don't fly VFR in or through clouds, if they flew IFR bad planning is the corporate and it's all pilot error!

      frankm - 2011-08-16 23:33

      Pardon my ignorance of these matters, but what may I ask is VFR and IFR? thanks

      Dips - 2011-08-16 23:38

      Visual flight rules and Instrument flight rules.

      frankm - 2011-08-17 00:48

      Thanks for the info

      Garth Heymans - 2011-08-17 06:53

      and u ar a pilot !!!!

      JF - 2011-08-17 07:11

      Dips You have no idea what you are talking about!

      Dips - 2011-08-17 09:16

      @JF - As a commercial pilot I believe I have the authority to speak on this subject. Another thing on the subject is that the law states that an accident can only happen from taxi to landing. Before and after that if somebody die on the aircraft it is not classified as an aviation accident. This is the reason "real" accidents are the only ones we hear of. Also, for example if someody "hides" in the gear area of say a 747 and dies because of cold, hypoxia or whatever in fligh at say FL40 it is also not classified as an aviation accident and the CAA will not except responsibility. Aviation law is extremely strict hence there is no room for error.

  • Joe - 2011-08-16 23:14

    South Africa's aviation industry needs to wake up and CATCH UP with the rest of the civilized aviation world, and produce proper, accurate charts stating accurate information. South African CAA is lagging, and this accident is a glaring indication of it. The only time you ever hear from a government aviation agency is when there's an accident.

      Dips - 2011-08-16 23:38

      You are wrong mate, pilot in command takes decision to take of and if they need to fly through clouds they need to file a flight plan which will put them at a safe flight level. If they were VFR and usure of weather conditions they should have nominated an alternate aerodrome. The CAA is very clear on VFR and IFR flight rules.

      Mikemcc - 2011-08-17 06:02

      @Joe, all the information you are refering to is readily available and is very accurate.

      JCWR56 - 2011-08-17 06:43

      @Joe. it is quite normal that the public really only hear from the CAA when there's an accident, that is in when they are most publicly visible. in the industry, service providers are working with them constantly to maintain accreditation, including surprise audits. if we aren't compliant, they close the business down.

      Lihle - 2011-08-17 06:53

      @Joe. There you have it mate. Any retraction?

      Sarel - 2011-08-17 06:54

      You first :)

      Joe - 2011-08-17 13:33

      I cry BS! I fly commercially in the US and have tried to get comparative documentation in SA, and let me assure you, it doesn't even come close! The CAA is eons behind. I still blame them for this. If you claim they are on par, then the fault lies with enforcement.

  • simongibson - 2011-08-16 23:22

    Very sad news.Hope smaller craft will be fitted with better systems in future!!Almost same conditions as Plet crash earier this year...

  • Neyven - 2011-08-17 01:35

    Was it not SADF Albatross planes that flew into Table Mountain all those many yeaqrs ago?

      ian.d.samson - 2011-08-17 04:20

      No, 3 Mercurius Jets (Hawker Sidley).

  • simba.mandiveyi - 2011-08-17 02:10

    too low, terrain??really tragic

  • Carlos - 2011-08-17 03:13

    The aircraft were certainly adequately equipped for the flight. As long as the pilots have eyes, then that is all they need to avoid terain. Under visual flight conditions you look out the window and avoid the obstacles. Under instrument flight conditions you use your instrument charts and stay above the minimum safe altitude as shown on the maps. If the aircraft is not approved for Instrument Flight Operations, as is the case with most Non-Type Certified aircraft (like these) then you remain flying in visual flight conditions. It's simple, turn back, land, wait until the weather clears. This is not rocket science, it is common sense. I cannot see what more CAA can do to avoid such tragedies from reoccurring, all pilots are well aware of these fundamental principals of flying. The problem occurs when pilots intentionally deviate from sensible and legislated procedures. My sincerest condolences to the families.

      ian.d.samson - 2011-08-17 04:25

      Clearly those pilots were not IFR rated. It's like Alan Whitebread who flew his Cessna Centurion into Thumbs Peak while "going for a gap" between Plettenberg Bay and the interior in 1997 killing all on board instantly. Even if it was 8/8 cloud cover, VFR pilots with a few hours know it's safer to stay on the ground for another 24 hours. If they must fly, then re-route using the area to the east of the escarpment where it's virtually flat all the way to Nelspruit! But this is a tragic case of 100% pilot error.

      Mikemcc - 2011-08-17 06:05

      @Ian, my understanding is that they were in fact both IF rated, no that it will help you if you are not flying a planned IFR flight.

      RiNCE - 2011-08-17 09:19

      Excuse me? The Albats ARE type certified? Where do you get your information? How do you think XPS was operating these aircraft commercially if they were not type certified? It is a specific requirement of the SACAA that any commercially used aircraft are type certified. Here is the FAA type certificate for the P166, or Albatross as it is known in South Africa:$FILE/7a4.pdf The SACAA recognize the FAA type certificates as far as I know, as well as any EASA type certificate, 30 seconds on Google and you can have the EASA type certificate too. Here it is: My father flew the Albats as one of his first flying jobs. He did plenty of night, bad weather and instrument time on type. You are spreading 'facts' that are incorrect by stating that they are not type certified aircraft.

      Dips - 2011-08-17 11:19

      @ian.d.samson & Mikemcc - I don't know what you know about aviation laws but I would like to add the following to the general viewers. IFR is where you fly on instruments alone, through cloud or at night. You are not allowed to fly IFR in General Air Space as Air traffic control will not seperate VFR and IFR. Air Traffice Control will seperate VFR and IFR and IFR and IFR in controlled airspace alone. If you fly IFR on a flight plan you can't fly into mountains as the flight plan will stipulate certain flight levels and the maps that you use for IFR are different from the maps you use for VFR. In IFR you fly tracks and if a track follows a certain route you need to fly at a certain flight level. These poor guys did not fly IFR as they were to low and even if they used instruments alone they were to low.

  • David Raats - 2011-08-17 03:14

    I knew Brian Gruar and Marrion Anderson... they will be missed by everyone they knew

  • ian.d.samson - 2011-08-17 04:20

    "n a mountainous area north-east of Tzaneen" There is NO "mountainour area" north-east of Tzaneen. South-West perhaps, but definitely not "north east"! Someone needs some geography lessons!

  • Maria - 2011-08-17 05:57

    Hi, I do not know mush about aviation. Are pilots not forced to hand in a flight plan which must be approved before take - off?

      RiNCE - 2011-08-17 06:37

      Nope, they are not required to if flying VFR (Visual Flight Rules). If however they are flying IFR, and plan to from the get go, they will file an IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) plan. To sum it up: VFR = Looking out the windows to avoid obstacles. IFR = Using the aircraft's instruments to guide and navigate your aircraft. You would use these instruments along with various charts of the area mapping out obstacles and such. You can also switch to IFR mid flight, if the weather changes or you feel the need to. So even if you are using IFR, you may not have filed a plan, if you switched during the duration of your flight.

      Dips - 2011-08-17 10:00

      @Maria, Rince is spot on, he knows what he is talking about, For IFR you need a flight plan, for VFR you do not need one but you may file a flight plan for search and resque purposes. When you land you need to cancel the flight plan. The reason for this is if you are not at your destination at your given ETA they will send a search and resque team to search for your aircraft. Most aircraft must carry an ELT (electronic locater transmitter) which will activate on a crash or you can activate it manually. You may also change the ETA during flight, this may happen for example you had a tailwind and suddenly your have a headwind. Your IAS (Indicated Airspeed) will remain the same but your TAS (true airspeed) which is nearly the same as groundspeed will decrease significantly and you will arrive later at the aerodrome.

  • thabatao - 2011-08-17 06:38

    This happens when you change town and city names and change the beacon callsigns. The pilots get confused and don't follow the correct flight path. Blame the ANC for changing the names. 100% ANC fault.

      Lihle - 2011-08-17 07:09

      Ja man, I agree. I bet even the cold weather we're having in KZN is the ANC's fault. And I'm sure the ANC's behind the financial problems plaguing the US and Europe. How about pinning the the Norwegian massacres on them too..that should stick like mud! You and I should get together over a glass of nice warm beer and compare notes!!!

      Henri - 2011-08-17 07:35

      Make no mistake the ANC is to blame for many things, but this is not their fault!

      Seperetla - 2011-08-17 14:41

      @ Thabatao. I think they are also responsible for your wife's infidelities.

  • Toby C. Goss - 2011-08-17 07:10

    "First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is" or "Lord we dont need another mountain, there are mountains and hillsides enough to climb" Baie jammer R I P

  • Baas Frik - 2011-08-17 07:39

    Clearly pilot error that caused this tradgedy. That two experienced pilots make the same error is very careless. Still it must be hell for the family.

  • gharri - 2011-08-17 09:05

    R.I.P. Condolences to all the familys! We feel for you!

  • Vissendran - 2011-08-17 09:10

    First, Condolences to the Families affected by this accident. This might sound harsh, i grew up in Tzaneen, those mountains ar notorious towards planes flying over it, especially in bad weather like they flew in. Why did the pilots not fly around the mountains, it is a complete death wish trying to go over those mountains in bad weather. The authorities are correct in checking the pilot's qualifications ... Dips, you right, pilot error is to blame for this accident

  • Papsak - 2011-08-17 10:33

    Frankm, go deal with your ignorance and stop wasting space on this forum please. It's none of our business that you are ignorant

      Leprechaun - 2011-08-17 13:36

      @Papsak not everyone was born with einstein's brain like you at least someone learned something about aviation. Rather go empty your papsak before you hurt yourself. My sincerest condolences to the families. R.I.P...

  • Papsak - 2011-08-17 10:37

    Yes the ANC is also responsible for this unfortunate disaster that we are talking about here.

  • jenny.nell - 2011-08-17 17:11

    This is indeed soooooo sad. And what makes it more sad to me, is that aviation is my dad's life and about a month ago he released a DVD about flying in adverse weather conditions where he specifically discuss these type of accidents. I wish everyone can see the DVD, to know how to avoid this in the future. Learning from other's mistakes is obviously the only good thing that can come from this!

  • mynhardt saayman - 2011-08-18 08:25

    Any pilots out there that could perhaps answer me will be much appreciated, "Why did they not fly higher say 15 000 feet?"

  • Joan - 2011-08-18 09:01

    My heart is so broken for these families and friends. Lauren was so beautiful and the children were still so young and well although I never knew them my heart goes out to their parents, families and friends. God Bless you all and may God keep His loving arms around you. I know that many have lost faith and blame God. The trauma is just too vast to deal with. I'm surprised that the planes took off in such bad weather!! Ark

  • Lyn Walker - 2011-08-23 19:29

    We would be better offering any help and support to the families involved in this awful tradgedy instead of picking over the information. My heart goes out to all of them and having to read these comments can only add more grief if thats possiable. God bless all of them.

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