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Air force grounds fleet after plane crash

The South African Air Force (SAAF) has grounded its fleet of Pilatus Astra PC-7 MkII aircraft following the death of a pilot in a plane crash on Tuesday.

The fleet would remain grounded until further notice, South African National Defence Force (SANDF) headquarters said on Wednesday.

The SANDF has named the pilot killed in the crash as Lieutenant Colonel Chris Meiring (58).

He was piloting a Pilatus Astra PC-7 MkII en route to air-force base Langebaanweg for routine maintenance.

The aircraft went down outside Bredasdorp, in the Western Cape, shortly after take-off from the SAAF’s Test Flight and Development Centre at noon on Tuesday.

Meiring was survived by his wife Anna and two daughters, Tanya and Melissa, said SANDF spokesperson Colonel Danie van der Westhuizen.

Funeral details had not yet been finalised.

He said the decision to ground the entire fleet was made following the convening of a board of inquiry into the crash.

Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota, chief of the SANDF General Godfrey Ngwenya and chief of the SAAF Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano have extended their sympathies and condolences to Meiring’s family. — Sapa

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