Bahrain probes Dubai plane crash
Manama, September 6, 2010
Bahrain aviation chiefs are conducting their own investigation into a Dubai plane crash that killed two crew members.
A high-ranking Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA) official told the GDN yesterday that an inquiry had been launched, after it emerged the pilot had reported problems to Bahrain's air traffic control shortly before returning to the UAE.
'An investigation is now on and we are co-ordinating with our counterparts in Dubai,' he said. 'It is too early to say what is happening and I cannot reveal more at this moment.'
Reports suggested the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) asked for transcripts of a conversation between the two-man crew and Bahrain's air traffic control, which directed the ill-fated aircraft back to Dubai.
However, sources told our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News, there was 'no question' of the plane making an emergency landing in Bahrain.
'The aircraft was at a great height and it would never have been possible to land in Bahrain,' they added. 'It went back to Dubai because it was quicker to reach rather than circle, descend and attempt a Bahrain landing.'
The United Parcel Service (UPS) transport plane had taken off from Dubai International Airport and was on its way to the UPS hub in Cologne, Germany on Friday.
However, the GCAA said just over 20 minutes into the flight air traffic controllers in Dubai received word from Bahrain that the plane was on its way back after reporting smoke in the cockpit.
It revealed that Bahraini authorities reported the jet was 'unable to maintain altitude and requested the airport for landing'.
The GCAA added the plane was travelling too high and too fast on its approach to Dubai and passed over the airport before making a right turn, but 'rapidly lost altitude' after the crew was told all runways had been cleared for landing and disappeared off the radar.
Crew members were unable to speak directly with air traffic controllers in Dubai as they attempted to land because the pilot had already switched his radio to a different frequency and for some reason couldn't switch it back, GCAA director-general Saif Al Suwaidi told The Associated Press.
'What we know is the pilot couldn't change the frequency... so the only solution was to relay the messages from Bahrain to Dubai,' he added.
The two American crewmembers Captain Doug Lampe, 48, and First Officer Matthew Bell, 38, were killed when the Boeing 747-400, one of the largest cargo planes flying, crashed.
Authorities have recovered the plane's cockpit voice recorder, but were still searching for the digital flight data recorder yesterday. – TradeArabia News Service