The Convair 340/440 aircraft that crashed at Wonderboom Airport, Pretoria North, in July had an unqualified crew on board, according to the SA Civil Aviation Authority’s (Sacaa’s) preliminary report about the crash.
“The purpose of the preliminary report is to give progress within 30 days into the investigation of an accident, and therefore this does not mean this is the final report,” said Peter Mashaba, Sacaa’s executive officer for accident investigations.
Mashaba stated the current preliminary report contained two major sections.
One was the factual information obtained through the investigation and the second was the preliminary findings of the crash identified during the current investigation.
Sacaa found that the 65-year-old captain, with more than 18 240 hours’ flying time, had valid Australian air transport, commercial and private licences and was rated to fly the aircraft.
“However, the validation issued by Sacaa was for a Private Pilot Licence under visual flight rules (VFR), which was valid until May 5, 2021,” the report stated.
It went on to say the first officer was not rated to fly the Convair, and was only validated locally to various “single engine landing” aircraft.
Aviation expert, Karl Jenson strongly repudiated the report’s preliminary finding that the Convair co-pilot was not licensed.
“A friend who trained him on the aircraft refutes this claim vehemently,” he told The Citizen. “The Sacaa report is preliminary only and there are glaring omissions and claims which cannot possibly be substantiated,” Jenson said.
“The report is out for comment before a full conclusion can be made before the blame game can be accepted.”
He noted the Sacaa preliminary report stated the co-pilot was correctly licensed at one stage and then contradicted it in another.
Both pilots – Ross Kelly and Douglas Haywood – had flown for Australia’s national airline Qantas “for more than 30 years, including as A380 captains” and had more than 37 000 flying hours between them.
It was supposed to stop in Zambia, Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, Croatia and Austria before arriving in the Netherlands on July 23.
The report found the South African aircraft mechanic who was not part of the crew, according to the aircraft flight manual, and was not rated on the aircraft as a pilot, had been operating the engine controls.
The mechanic died in the crash, while another person was killed on the ground when the plane impacted.
Emergency procedures were not followed when the crew were informed of the left engine was on fire, and the engine fire extinguishing system wasn’t activated.
The entire procedure was recorded on a GoPro camera inside the cockpit