NAM looking into reports of suicide in Mozambican plane crash

22 Dec 2013 18:30pm
WINDHOEK, 22 DEC (NAMPA) – Namibia’s Director of Aircraft Accident Investigations, Ericsson Nengola says Namibia will continue to lead the investigations into the fatal Mozambican plane crash, including reports that the pilot crashed the plane intentionally.
The plane crashed in the Bwabwata National Park in the Kavango East Region on 29 November this year, killing all 33 people on board.
Ericsson confirmed in an interview with Nampa on Sunday that he has received information that the preliminary results of investigations concluded on the black box which was retrieved from the wreck of the Mozambican Airlines flight TM470 indicate that the pilot brough down that plane intentionally.
The plane was a complete wreck and bodies were extremely hard to identify, but the 'black box' flight recorders were recovered intact and sent to the United States National Transport Safety Board in Washington to be decoded and transcribed.
Ericsson said these are just the preliminary reports and Namibia will lead the investigations until their completion.
“These were the preliminary results of the audio recordings from the black box, but the investigations are still continuing. Investigations may take a couple of years to complete,” Nengola said.
Joao Abreu, Chairman of the Mozambican Civil Aviation Institute was quoted by the Associated Press (AP) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), saying there was a clear intention by the pilot to crash the plane.
“The pilot Herminio dos Santos Fernandes locked himself in the cockpit, and did not allow his co-pilot back inside until moments before the plane hit the ground,” Abreu was quoted saying.
He said the pilot's motives have not been established, and investigations will continue in that direction. The co-pilot had gone out to the bathroom, and the pilot reportedly used that time to lock himself in.
“Radar data showed that, at an obligatory reporting position over northern Botswana, the plane suddenly started to slow downwards rapidly. The plane's movements were normal before that, with no mechanical functions,” Abreu said.
The altitude selector was then manually altered three times, bringing the plane's altitude down from 38,000 feet to 592 feet, he added, reading the preliminary report to reporters.
Low and high intensity alarm signals were heard on recovered recordings from the plane, along with the sounds of repeated banging on the cockpit door, he said.
The investigation report does not say who was banging, but Abreu asserted that the co-pilot was not in the cockpit at the time of the crash and was therefore not responsible for the crash.