Pilot was unfit to fly, probe finds

The plane in which Donbaldt Noa died was flown by a pilot whose licence had not been renewed by the aviation authorities on medical grounds.

12 January 2021 | Accidents



The 40-year-old pilot who crashed a gyrocopter on 17 December 2020 just outside of Windhoek did not have a valid licence to fly the aircraft, Namibian Sun can reveal.

The information is contained in a preliminary report by the Directorate of Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigations. According to the report, the engine of the gyrocopter had no mechanical defects and it had all the required aviation licensing needed to fly.

A passenger was killed in the crash while the pilot, Pierre Blaauw, died the following day in hospital due to extensive injuries sustained in the accident.

The passenger was identified as Donbaldt Noa. He is the son of Anti-Corruption Commission of Namibia (ACC) director general, Paulus Noa.

According to the just published preliminary report, Blaauw's licence was invalid by a non-renewal of his medical certificate and failure to maintain proficiency.

“The last medical assessment done declared the pilot medically unfit on 23 June 2020,” the report read.

Struck power lines

The crash occurred at about 14:20 between Klein Windhoek and the Kappsfarm road block on the Hosea Kutako International Airport main road, about 15km from Windhoek.

Investigators found that the Namibian-registered gyrocopter took off from Eros airport at around 14:02 for a private flight, flying over Heja Lodge and returning to the airport.

The flight was cleared by air traffic control for an altitude of 7 000 feet, with only the pilot and one passenger on board, according to the report.

“The gyrocopter hit power lines, crash-landed on the road and burst into flames. It was consumed by the fire before the arrival of the fire fighters about 30 minutes later.”

The power lines, approximately 20 to 30 feet from the ground, are well below the cleared altitude of 7 000 feet, the report noted.

No distress call

According to the report, air traffic control did not receive a distress call.

It said the directorate of aircraft accident investigations was informed about the crash by a member of the public driving on the road.

The department immediately activated the response procedures and commenced with its investigation on site.

According to the report, the wreckage was removed and transported to a safe location at the Eros airport for an in-depth investigation. The department has also contacted the state of manufacture in accordance with international protocols.

Wider systematic issues emanating from the gyrocopter's operations were also explored; however, a full investigation is still underway.

Investigations continue

It was found that the gyrocopter had a valid Special Certificate of Airworthiness (Authority to Fly) - permit number SFPM-039-2020 - which is valid until 23 June in accordance to civil authority regulations.

The last annual inspection carried out on the aircraft prior to the accident took place on 6 August 2020.

“The gyrocopter had flown a further two hours since the inspection was signed out,” the report read.

The engine teardown was done on 18 December and no mechanical defects could be detected.

According to investigator in charge Hafeni Mweshixwa, the investigation continues. This will include the collection and analysis of meteorological information, pilot training records, air traffic control response activities, maintenance organisation practices and the regulator's surveillance.

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