/ 3 February 2014

Lanseria crash: Bad weather may be to blame

Bad weather may have caused the fatal plane crash at Lanseria airport.
Bad weather may have caused the fatal plane crash at Lanseria airport.

A plane crash which killed three people at Lanseria airport may have been caused by the pilot trying to avoid hitting a building during a difficult landing in pelting rain.

"Speculation is that it was due to the weather," airport spokesperson Claudette Vianello said on Monday.

Three people died when a twin-propellor Beechcraft King Air BE90 crashed at the airport on landing, bursting into flames from the impact.

It was speculated that the crash, on the embankment opposite the runway, could have been due to the pilot trying to avoid hitting an airport building.

"It is speculated that it was a controlled flight into terrain to avoid a worse collision with a building," said Vianello.

The aircraft came from Rand Airport and was scheduled to land at Lanseria.

She said the pilot was in contact with the control tower before the crash. The plane burst into flames upon impact but emergency services at the airport contained the blaze.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority, which is investigating the crash, and emergency services were at the accident site.

Various consulates have been calling the airport trying to determine if any of their citizens might have been on board. The names of the deceased have not yet been released.

Heavy rain
Paramedics from Netcare 911 initially confirmed two deaths in the crash on Monday morning but this was later revised to three by the airport's chief executive Gavin Sayce.

"Something happened and it crashed on landing. It was flying in from one of the local airports," said Sayce. "All three people on board have died."

"Smoke came out and I saw fire and a few minutes later emergency vehicles arrived," an eyewitness told Eye Witness News. 

It had reportedly missed the runway, and crashed in an open area near the ExecuJet building.

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba extended condolences to the families of the victims.

"Our sympathy to the families, even though we do not know what happened yet. We send our condolences and hope God will comfort them."

Sayce said the crash has not affected airport operations, as the wreckage is far from the runway. – Sapa