Red Sea crash crew 'found fault during autopilot'

5th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

CAIRO, March 4 (AFP) - The pilot of the Egyptian airliner which crashed in January engaged the autopilot while making a turn, shortly before its nosedive into the Red Sea, the chief investigator said here Thursday.

CAIRO, March 4 (AFP) - The pilot of the Egyptian airliner which crashed in January engaged the autopilot while making a turn, shortly before its nosedive into the Red Sea, the chief investigator said here Thursday.

The Egyptian head of the investigating team, Shaker Qelada, said the pilot had asked the co-pilot to switch on the autopilot during a left turn undertaken shortly after takeoff from Sharm el-Sheikh airport.

Qelada told a press conference that, according to the flight data and voice cockpit recorders of the doomed Flash Airlines Boeing 737, the auto-pilot worked for four seconds and then the pilot asked the co-pilot to switch it off.

"While the autopilot was on, we hear the pilot saying he spotted something wrong," said the investigator, without specifying wether the hitch was related to the autopilot.

"Seconds later, the co-pilot says the plane is not responding as it should. We hear that the plane is going to the right, and it kept going to the right," he said.

"It then fell down," killing all 148 passengers and crew, including 134 French tourists, he added.

He said the investigators are now trying to determine what happened between the moment when the autopilot was engaged and the crash.

He insisted that the on and off switching of the autopilot "is not abnormal and does not lead to a dangerous position."

Qelada and France's Accident Investigations Bureau (BEA) on Tuesday dismissed as "speculation" a French newspaper report that said the crash was caused by human error, the flight crew wrongly believing they had engaged the automatic pilot.

Citing evidence from the Boeing 737's black boxes, Le Figaro reported that "the crew thought it had switched on the automatic pilot, but in fact it never started operating. And the pilots probably never identified the fault."

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

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