Windhoek - A twin-engine plane crashed Friday morning on a private farm next to Hosea Kutako International Airport, killing all three occupants on board. Although the police yesterday could not release the names of the deceased pending DNA tests, social media reported that one of the deceased was presumably Uwe Herbert, chief corporate pilot of Eros Air. He had served Ohlthaver & List Group of Companies (O&L) for 31 years. “Investigations are underway to determine the cause of the crash,” Namibian Police spokesperson Chief Inspector Kauna Shikwambi told reporters yesterday during the Sunday crime briefing. “It will be unethical to release names without police clearance,” cautioned the police chief inspector. The twin-propeller Cessna 425 Conquest crashed at about 10h11in an empty field on farm Oupembamewa just two kilometers from the main airport and about 400 metres north-east of the northern perimeter fence where incoming planes start to make their touchdown on the runway. A statement sent to the media by O&L confirmed the incident, saying three pilots were conducting training on board an Eros Air and O&L subsidiary plane. O&L is the largest private group of companies in Namibia with its headquarters in Windhoek from where it manages franchises and Namibian owned entities. Executive chairman Sven Thieme expressed his shock: ‘This is really a very sad day in the history of the O&L Group and certainly a tremendous loss for Namibia at large, not to mention the impact this tragedy will have on the lives of the deceased’s loved ones.” The ill-fated plane with flight number A707/1 and registration V5MJW departed from Eros Airport in Windhoek to Hosea Kutako International Airport, said Namibia Airport Company head of corporate communication Mia Davids. O&L Group external relations manager Roux-che Locke confirmed the accident on Friday but could not forward names of the deceased as the Group CEO, Peter Grüttemeyer, was in the process of personally informing the next of kin of the deceased. “None of the deceased were affiliated to or employed by Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL). One of the pilots was employed by Eros Air, a subsidiary of the O&L Group, while a second pilot occasionally did freelance work for Eros Air. The third pilot was a flight instructor,” the statement reads. The crash ignited several small trees but the fires were quickly extinguished by airport fire-fighters, said Davids. “They responded to the scene and upon arrival discovered that all on board had perished and managed to extinguish the remaining fire.” When the media, after hours of waiting, arrived at the scene at 16h00 under the supervision of the police and airport staff, the wreckage lay in a heap of melted iron while parts of the plane that broke off were strewn over about 40 metres from where the impact occurred. Parts of the plane that broke off were either bent or broken into smaller pieces. Forensic staff were busy collecting the burnt remains and clearing the scene. No skid marks were observed and it seemed that the aircraft just dropped from the sky. The main wreckage was totally destroyed by the inferno and the crash left a deep scar in the ground. Authorities don’t know what caused the plane to go down. A team of members of the police and forensic and aircraft accident investigators began investigating the crash site. Investigators hope to have a preliminary report ready by the end of this month. Witnesses reported seeing a fireball but were surprised when they didn’t hear any explosion. “You’d think it would be a crash out of the movies where you’d see the flames. and you’d hear it, but it was real subtle. You saw flames but you couldn’t hear the explosion,” said an eyewitness New Era spoke to. In April 1968, a Boeing 707 crashed in the same vicinity killing most of the passengers on board, according to Norman Pule, a manager of operations at the airport. The Boeing passenger jet, with registration ZS-EUW, was destroyed in the accident 5km from Hosea Kutako International Airport, then known as J.G. Strijdom Airport. There were 116 passengers and 12 crew members on board. The airplane operated on a flight from Windhoek to Luanda’s de Fevereiro Airport (LAD). Five passengers survived the crash. It is recorded in aviation books that the brand new Boeing 707 ZS-EUW was operating on South African Airways flight SA228 from Johannesburg to London via Windhoek, Luanda, Las Palmas and Frankfurt. At 20:49 the aircraft took off from Windhoek runway 08 and climbed to a height of about 650 feet above ground level. The plane levelled off and started to descend, flying into the ground 30 seconds later. The airplane impacted the ground some 5km from the runway at a 271 knots groundspeed and rate of descent of about 2000 feet/min.
New Era Reporter
2016-02-01 09:40:20 3 years ago