Plane crash that killed 33 people ‘was intentionally caused by pilot’

Preliminary investigations into a November plane crash that killed 33 people show that the pilot intentionally brought down the Mozambican plane, an aviation official has said.

The Mozambican Airlines aircraft was bound for Angola with six crew members and 27 passengers, including 10 Mozambicans, nine Angolans, five Portuguese, and one citizen each from France, Brazil and China, according to the airline.

The aircraft went down on November 29 in a Namibian national park near the border with Angola.

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“There was an intention to crash the plane,” Joao Abreu, chairman of the Mozambican Civil Aviation Institute said after gathering recordings and preliminary investigations.

The pilot’s motives are unknown, and investigations will continue, he said, naming the pilot as Herminio dos Santos Fernandes. The co-pilot was in the toilet at the time, he said.

Radar data showed that, at an obligatory reporting position 
over northern Botswana, the aircraft suddenly started to slow rapidly.

The plane’s movements were normal before that, with no mechanical functions, he said. The altitude selector was then manually altered three times, bringing the plane’s altitude down from 38,000ft to 592ft, Mr Abreu said, reading the preliminary report to reporters.

Low and high intensity alarm signals can be heard on recovered recordings from the aircraft, along with the sounds of repeated banging on the cockpit door, he said.

The investigation report does not say who was banging, but Mr Abreu asserted that the co-pilot was not in the cockpit at the time of the crash and not responsible for the crash.