Too soon to determine cause of FlyDubai crash, says General Civil Aviation Authority

Investigators are sifting through evidence to establish why flight FZ981 crashed at Rostov-on-Don airport early on March 19, resulting in the deaths of all 62 crew and passengers.

DUBAI // It is too soon to determine the cause of the fatal FlyDubai jet crash in Russia, officials at the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said on Sunday.

Investigators are sifting through evidence to establish why flight FZ981 crashed at Rostov-on-Don airport early on March 19, resulting in the deaths of all 62 crew and passengers.

Data related to the wreckage of the Boeing 737-800, the crew, maintenance, air traffic control as well as the weather is currently being analysed.

“Before the data is fully examined, it would be premature to hypothesise the cause of the accident,” said Saif Mohamed Al Suwaidi, director general of the GCAA.

“There has been speculation as to the cause of the accident and also that reference to supposed details of the contents of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) recording have appeared in the media.

“In this regard the GCAA would urge respect for the feelings of the relatives of the victims and the integrity of the investigation process. Speculation serves no purpose and can only result in needless anxiety and concern.” Over the weekend, Russian state television aired what was claimed to be the final words of the pilots of FZ981, suggesting pilot error could be to blame.

Russia’s Rossiya-1 channel late on Friday said it had obtained a transcript of the last words exchanged a minute before the Boeing 737 plunged to the ground from a source in the investigative commission with access to the plane’s voice recorders.

“Don’t worry,” the pilot is reported to repeatedly say in a transcript translated into Russian, before repeating seconds later “Don’t do that!” The last words are repeated calls to “Pull up!”

The GCAA in the UAE said all of the CVR or “black box” data that covers the final two hours of the flight before the crash had been downloaded and was currently being transcribed into English and Russian.

The quality of the recorded speech and sounds was satisfactory, said the GCAA.

Experts have been examining the information over the last five days using advanced software.

“Examination and transcription of the CVR is detailed and time-consuming work which is carried out very carefully including a word-by-word analysis of all speech and communications of the flight crew, and also analysis of sounds heard in the cockpit,” said Ismaeil Al Hosani, assistant director general of the GCAA’s Air Accident Investigation Sector,

“The analysed contents of the CVR and flight data recorder (FDR) will be examined later, in context with the results of other parts of the investigation, to form an overall view of events contributing to the accident.”

The FDR data has been successfully downloaded and is also of a satisfactory quality.

Based on this evidence Boeing, the aircraft’s manufacturer, has been conducting computer simulations that “agree” with the recorded data, said the GCAA.

At a later stage, once investigators have a better understanding of aircraft’s manoeuvres, the team may perform trails using a specialized Boeing 737 simulator. However, the GCAA said such trials are not planned for the immediate future.

nhanif@thenational.ae

* with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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