Plane crash caused by pilot error

An L-39 trainer jet

Last Wednesday a regular flight from one of Prague's military airfields to a base in Moravia ended in tragedy, when a plane tumbled to the ground and exploded in a field near the town of Pelhrimov. Eyewitnesses say the L-39 Albatros trainer jet, being flown by a 28-year old pilot from Caslav Airbase, only narrowly avoided a local housing estate. Well the aircraft's flight recorder - or 'black box' - was recovered soon after the crash and handed over to experts for immediate investigation, and the results of that investigation have now been released. Dita Asiedu has more:

Investigators had established the cause of the accident by Monday afternoon and a press release issued by the Czech air force announced that the fatal crash had been caused by pilot error. The class-2 pilot is believed to have been trying an unauthorised aerobatic manoeuvre which was not part of his mission when he lost control of the aircraft and crashed. Ladislav Klima is the Chief Commander of the Czech Air Force:

"One can only deduce from the information that we've gathered that the pilot was guilty of violating flight regulations by engaging in manoeuvres of a highly complicated nature that were not part of his assignment."

The investigation was completed despite Friday's theft of a car from Caslav Airbase which contained pieces of equipment from the crashed plane. Air Force officials were reported to be furious over the theft, since the stolen material included an altimeter which they said would have been instrumental in establishing the cause of the accident.

The Czech daily newspaper Mlada fronta dnes claimed that the thief had been allowed access to the car after presenting a false ID card at the gate. Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik was quoted as saying that this was just another example of the unbelievable chaos at Caslav Airbase. The theft is being investigated by the military police, but according to Czech Air Force spokesman, Petr Fajl, it did not hinder the investigation. He says the information contained in the stolen equipment had already been properly documented:

"Before anything is taken from the scene of an accident, it is entered on a so-called 'accident map'. A detailed description of the item is made and it's photographed and recorded on video before we pick it up. So, any information that the stolen evidence could have provided us with has already been clearly documented."

Well the investigation continues, to see whether a technical fault also could have contributed to the accident.