Turkish prosecutors have ordered the detention of two pilots for possible negligence after their plane skidded off the runway at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen airport killing three passengers, online news portal T24 reported on Feb. 6.
The two pilots were among the 180 people injured on the plane, which crashed and broke into three pieces on Feb. 5.
The pilots will give their statements to the prosecutors after their treatment at the hospital is complete, the report said.
State-run Anadolu Agency said the co-pilot, who is identified with the initials F.P., was critically injured and was receiving treatment at the private American Hospital in Istanbul. Dutch officials said the man was Dutch.
The captain, who is identified as M.A. and is of Turkish nationality, was also hospitalized but not as badly hurt.
The Istanbul Anadolu Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has also demanded that the mobile phones of the two pilots be seized via a court order.
The prosecutors interrogated two air traffic control and two airport ground personnel regarding the investigation. They will also talk with pilots from two other planes that decided to abort their landings amid bad weather at the airport shortly before the Pegasus flight.
The air traffic control tower was reported to have warned the Pegasus pilots about the bad weather conditions, telling them that pilots before them had aborted their lands due to risks.
The plane descent ‘felt’ very fast, say survivors
Meanwhile, Anadolu Agency conducted interviewees with survivors of the plane crash, with several saying that the plane had landed “very fast” compared to a routine landing.
“I felt like we crashed on the land and then lifted up again; at that point, we were probably falling into the steep ditch,” Rümeysa Demirtaş said from her hospital bed in Istanbul. She said that once the airplane came to an halt, there was panic among the people, with some shouting “The plane crashed; it will explode, run.”
Rümeysa Demirtaş’s husband Şeref Demirtaş was also among the injured passengers. He had his shoulder blade and haunch bone broken during the landing. “I have heard of a bang noise. The plane’s landing was very different to a routine one…Later the plane fell to the steep ditch,” he said.
The plane landed in heavy wind and rain, and slid 60 metres off the end of the runway before dropping to a high ditch. The 11-year-old plane broke into three pieces, forcing passengers to squeeze out through the cracks or climb onto its damaged wings.
Pegasus pilots are ‘encouraged and trained’ to avoid risks, says CEO
After the incident, Pegasus CEO Mehmet Tevfik Nane held a press conference. Nane, who cried at some points of his speech, said on Feb. 6 that 56 people had been as of 1 p.m. local time discharged from hospitals and the aircraft’s black box was being examined for clues to the cause of the crash.
“It’s not easy to speak here when there are deaths, damages, injuries,” Nane said. “There are tons of questions. How did it happen? Why did it happen?” he said, adding that information would be shared with the public when available in the future.
Nane said Pegasus pilots were “encouraged” and “trained” to avoid risks, do stable approaches, bypass landings if necessary and divert to alternative airports. He said the airline safety’s scores were above European Union standards.