x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Military plane crashes in Dubai

A military training aircraft returning to Italy after the Dubai Airshow crashed in the sea near Deira about midday yesterday. The two pilots from the Italian-made trainer M-346 ejected from the aircraft just before it went down near the Palm Deira.

An Alenia Aermacchi M-346.
An Alenia Aermacchi M-346.

DUBAI // A military training aircraft returning to Italy after the Dubai Airshow crashed in the sea near Deira about midday yesterday, less than half an hour after take-off.

The two pilots from the Italian-made trainer M-346 ejected from the aircraft just before it went down in the Gulf near the Palm Deira, which is under construction.

Dubai Police said the Italian crew were rescued from the sea and taken to Rashid Hospital, one suffering a broken leg and one suffering minor injuries. There were no other reported casualties when the plane hit the water.

“The pilot lost control of the plane shortly after taking off and it crashed into the sea three nautical miles from Palm Deira,” said Lt Col Abdullah Al Mazyoud, director of Ports Police Station.

At midday, Dubai Police began receiving reports that a plane destined for Riyadh in Saudi Arabia had gone down in Dubai.

Comments began to surface on Twitter that a plane taking part in the airshow, which ended on Thursday, had crashed into Dubai Creek.

The aircraft manufacturer, Alenia Aermacchi, confirmed that one of its planes was involved, but did not reveal where the crash happened.

A spokesperson said the aircraft was a prototype used only by the company and was not for sale.

“Yes, there has been an accident in Dubai,” the spokesperson said. “The plane was a military aircraft and was at the Dubai Airshow. It was returning to Italy after the show. The crew that was in the plane ejected successfully and didn’t receive any serious injuries.”

“Captain Giovanni Bingley lost contact suddenly with the control tower at the airport,” according to a report published by Wam, the state news agency.

A representative of Finmeccanica, Alenia Aermacchi’s holding company, said it was fortunate the crash happened at sea.

“Our first worry was casualties,” said the representative, who asked not to be named. “It was luckily in the sea and there were no civilian casualties.”

He said the pilots, who are in their forties and had more than 20 years of flying experience, were still in shock.

“It all happened so quickly,” he said. “We still don’t know what exactly happened. They are very stressed and want to relax. Their safety is our priority and we are happy that they are safe.”

The pilots were part of a 10-member crew who had come for the airshow.

Soon after the crash, rescue teams made up of police, civil defence, civil aviation, and the Coastguard, began to search the crash site for wreckage and the aircraft’s black box, which contains information on the cause of the crash.

The pilots yesterday remained in hospital to undergo full physical examinations.

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority confirmed the accident, but said it could not disclose further details as the investigations fell under the UAE military’s purview.

The aircraft manufacturer said in a written statement: “The causes of the accident are currently being investigated and, in accordance with company procedures, an internal investigation committee has also been set up. Alenia Aermacchi representatives are cooperating closely with the local authorities, through the Italian embassy in the United Arab Emirates.”

pkannan@thenational.ae