CRASH INVESTIGATORS HAVE FOUND NO SIGNS OF MECHANICAL FAILURE

HUMAN error is thought to have been the reason for last December's light plane crash in Majorca which claimed the lives of all three people on board. The light plane, a Piper PA-46 Malibu, took off from Son Bonet airfield at 11.30am on December 16, bound for Sabadell in Catalonia, with three businessmen on board. Two were brothers. According to the accident investigation being carried out by the Civil Aviation Accident Commission, a series of errors, apparently starting with a diversion from the normal flight path minutes after taking off, led to the tragic accident. The normal flight path for Sabadell would have taken the light aircraft north over Inca and on to Alcudia before banking for the mainland. Apparently, after taking off, the light plane headed east into restricted air space, although it appears that the pilot was unaware of the local restrictions, before turning north. Weather was bad that day, but visibility was satisfactory with a bank of clouds at 600 metres, under which the pilot flew north for better visibility. Just before mid-day, the pilot headed into the Molde de Son Terrasa mountains near Orient. Apparently unable to gain enough altitude to fly over the peaks, the plane crashed into a sheer mountain side at 360 kilometres per hour. The aircraft exploded on impact and all of the three occupants died at the scene. The rescue operation was a complicated one because access to the mountain crash site was difficult, but early on in the investigation attention was drawn to the unusual flight path the experienced pilot took.

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