Plane in fatal Dubai crash may have hit turbulence

A Thai Airways Airbus 350 passenger jet was landing on a parallel runway at the time of the incident

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A light aircraft that crashed in Dubai, killing four people, may have hit turbulence caused by a passing commercial jet, investigators have said.

Three Britons and one South African died in the accident, which happened close to Dubai International Airport on May 16.

Preliminary reports from French air crash investigators noted that the four-seater, twin-engine plane had “encountered possible wake turbulence”.

It said a Thai Airways operated Airbus A350 – a large passenger jet that seats up to 300 people – was coming in to land at a parallel runway at the time of the incident.

“A Diamond DA-62 aircraft, registration mark G-MDME, was involved in a fatal accident while on approach to runway 30L of Dubai International Airport for a ground navigation equipment inspection flight,” said a statement released by the Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses, a Civil Aviation Safety agency responsible for investigations.

“Video footage showed the aircraft encountered possible wake turbulence at about 1,100 ft [335m], following an Airbus A350, which landed on the parallel runway 30R.”

The Diamond DA42 aircraft came down at about 7.30pm near Mushrif Park, which is close to Dubai’s international terminal.

Two of the three British nationals on board have been named as former RAF wing commander David Phillips and William Blackburn, a first officer at Flight Calibration Services, the Sussex-based owner of the plane.

South African Fritz Venter, a married father of one, has also been confirmed as having died in the crash. The fourth victim has yet to be formally identified.

Wake turbulence, or intense swirls and vortices, can be caused by large commercial jets during flight. The phenomenon has the potential to disrupt other aircraft, especially lighter ones, that hit the same air.

Dubai International has one of the strongest safety records of any major airport.

The only other major incident in recent years was when Emirates Flight 521, from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, crashed on the runway on August 3, 2016.

All 300 passengers and crew survived, with 30 taken to hospital, mostly with minor injuries or for precautionary check-ups.

The fuel tank of the Boeing 777 exploded in an ensuing blaze, killing firefighter Jassim Al Baloushi, 27, from Ras Al Khaimah.