Initial findings point to engine failure in plane crash

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pretoria - Preliminary findings are indicating that it could have been engine failure that was responsible for Thursday's SA Airlink plane crash in Merebank, south of Durban.

According to initial reports, the SA Airlink Jetstream 41 Turboprop aircraft, which had twin engines, broke in two after crashing into a school ground in Merebank, shortly after take-off from the Durban International Airport around 8am on Thursday morning.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokeswoman, Phindiwe Gwebu, told BuaNews on Friday that the preliminary phase of the investigations were complete and they can confirm the possibility of an engine failure that could have caused the crash.

"We can confirm that investigators have completed their preliminary phase investigations at the scene of the accident, but we must now all wait for the final conclusions of their investigations.

"The preliminary evidence indicates that the crash might have been caused by an engine failure," she said.

It is not yet known when the final report will be released.

Gwebu said the wreckage could now be removed since the crash investigators have completed collecting all the physical evidence at the scene, and have documented evidence from the crash site and other parts of the plane.

She said the crash investigators are expected to return to Johannesburg later this afternoon, where investigators will continue to examine their evidence, interact with various experts, including the manufactures of the plane, in order to understand what exactly happened.

Four people sustained injuries in the crash; two pilots are in a critical condition in ICU; a flight attendant suffered back and neck injuries; and a municipal worker on the ground was injured and taken to hospital.

According to the CAA's website, the plane was experiencing engine problems after take-off from Durban International Airport on Thursday.

"The aircraft was unable to maintain altitude and the crew attempted to land on a sports field of a local school at a suburb just 3km north east of the airport."

It impacted a concrete fence which caused damage to the cockpit, severely injuring the two pilots.

Fortunately, no fire erupted as a result of the crash, even though the aircraft has been extensively damaged.

It took two and a half hours to extract the last crewmember from the cockpit, without causing further injuries.