Middle East

Pilot's last words reveal he knew private jet would crash

BEIRUT: “Wow, oh my God, oh my God!” were the last words Lebanese co-pilot Abdullah Yazbek uttered seconds before the Hawker 850 Lebanese-registered private jet crashed in Iraq last week, killing seven passengers, a source from the French Aviation authorities told The Daily Star.

The source said the primary analysis of the voice recorder of the plane’s black box carried out in France revealed that the plane crashed and caught fire after its right engine stalled due to wind shear.

The source added that the recordings revealed that the plane computer issued a “bank angle” warning, to indicate a plane’s abnormal swing to the right.

The recording captured Yazbek shouting, just two to three seconds after he and Jordanian pilot Marwan Dahle geared up five seconds following takeoff.

The voice recorder also captured the voices of passengers in a state of panic moments before the crash.

However, the source added that the outcome of investigations remains unconfirmed, as officials await the analysis of the black box’s data recorder, which includes more than 1,100 pieces of data.

The data recorder of the U.S.-made plane was sent to the U.S. for decoding Monday and will be returned to France for analysis.

The private jet left Beirut last Friday before flying to Sulaimaniyah, via Ankara, where a number of associates got aboard. The plane was heading back to the Turkish capital when its engines failed.

The bodies of six victims – including three Lebanese nationals – were transferred to Beirut last weekend and were laid to rest Sunday.

The Lebanese victims, associates of Iraqi-British businessman Basil Mahdi Rahim, were named as businessman Abdullah Lahoud, from Amsheet, Jbeil, Yazbek, who was from Hawsh al-Rafka, Bekaa, and air hostess Stephanie Luca, from Batroun.

The others who lost their lives were shareholders and technicians with telecommunications firm Asiacell.

The aircraft had been registered with Lebanon’s Civil Aviation Authority under the names of Rahim, Lahoud and two other businessmen.

Rafik Hariri International Airport president Daniel Haibi and civil aviation experts Omar Qadouha and Edward Zabloski returned Tuesday from northern Iraq’s city of  Sulaimaniyah after being briefed on preliminary probes carried out by Iraq’s Civil Aviation authorities.





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