Early Preliminary Response on Mozambique Airlines Crash

Saturday, December 21, 2013
By George Hatcher

The Mozambique Airlines Embraer 190 disappeared from radar when entering Namibian airspace but Mozambican authorities took over three hours to inform Namibian ATC that the plane had gone missing. Heavy rain in the area led to poor visibility. Was the pilot was deliberately flying low or had lightning possibly damaged the plane?

Head of the Mozambique’s Civil Aviation Institute (IACM) Joao Abreu made some statements to the press.

Abreu said just before the Embraer 190 hit the ground, Captain Herminio dos Santos Fernandes locked himself in the cockpit, ignored warnings and did not allow his co-pilot back in.

Abreu said that Captain Herminio dos Santos Fernandes manipulated the Embraer 190’s autopilot in a way which “denotes a clear intention” to bring the plane down;

Abreu said that “During these actions you can hear low and high-intensity alarm signals and repeated beating against the door with demands to come into the cockpit.”

Input from the black boxes indicated that the altitude was changed three times from 38,000 feet to 592, and the spoilers were deployed and held.

The captain had 9,053 hours of flying time, 1,395 of them as the captain of an Embraer.

Do we really know what was going on in the cockpit of the plane as it went down in the Bwabwata National Park in north-east Namibia? Do we have any idea what went on in the mind of Captain Herminio dos Santos Fernandes?

I think not. I think it is too soon to make presumptions. I believe the investigation, if it is performed to industry standards—which may be a challenge, given Mozambique’s safety standards as regarded by the EU—has much more to reveal.

*Don’t watch the video below if you have a weak stomach. U.S. News does not carry such graphic images.

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