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Johannesburg - Final radio chatter between two pilots seconds before their aircraft flew into a mountain suggests they were unsure if it was safe to fly through a valley.
An accident report into the crash of two Albatrosses on August 14, 2011, released by the Civil Aviation Authority, lists a number of factors that contributed to the accident, which claimed the lives of 13 people.
These included the lack of proper flight planning, low clouds and the fact that the aircraft were flying below the altitude that the CAA stipulated was safe for this mountainous area.
The “probable cause” of the crash stated in the report was “controlled flight into terrain”.
The Albatrosses crashed on a mountain in the Lekgalametse valley at an altitude of 5 030 feet.
According to CAA regulations, the minimum sector altitude for the area of the crash site was nearly double that at 9 300 feet.
The crash investigators believe the crash took place at 10.30am. About 30 seconds earlier, the following radio communication had been recorded between the two pilots.
“**** do you have to go through?”
“Do you know what the height is? But I suppose we can transit.”
Then at 10.29am and 39 seconds: “I think I feel better going through.”
“Okay, I will follow.”
The asterisks were inserted to omit the name of the pilot.
However, the two pilots - Brian Gruar and Peter Geldenhuys - were experienced, with thousands of flying hours between them.
The accident occurred about 10 minutes after the two planes, which were formerly used by the military, took off from the Tzaneen aerodrome in Limpopo.