By Nico Gous and Nomahlubi Jordaan
A plane crash north of Pretoria on Tuesday has claimed a second life. “We have now confirmed that two people have died‚” the Dutch aviation museum Aviodrome confirmed on Facebook on Wednesday.
“One was a South African technician on board the aircraft and one a factory worker from the building the airplane hit … There are currently still patients in the hospital‚ two of whom are critical.”
The flight engineer Christo Barnard died following the plane crash‚ which occurred shortly after take-off from Wonderboom Airport in Pretoria late on Tuesday afternoon.
“I knew him well as the brother of one of my best friends. He was an ex-SAAF (South African Air Force) member who joined in the early 1980s while I was also still in the SAAF. He was only 54 years old. RIP Christo‚” Christo Lee posted on a Facebook group on Wednesday.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the crash happened around 4.30pm.
“The investigation is still at an early stage and therefore some details are yet to be verified.”
It confirmed there were 19 people on board – 16 passengers‚ two pilots and a flight engineer. Of the 19 people on board‚ three were Dutch‚ two Australians and 14 South Africans.
“There were a number of serious injuries with one fatal injury confirmed on the accident scene. In addition‚ three people who were on the ground were injured; one of them passed away this morning.”
The CAA said a preliminary report would be released within 30 days.
“The completion of an investigation is marked by the release of a final accident report‚ which would also contain safety recommendations aimed at improving the levels of aviation safety and prevention of a similar accident.”
A video has emerged that captures the final moments before the plane crashed.
In the video‚ the Convair 340 can be seen moving down the runway and taking off.
The two pilots were critically injured and a passenger suffered a double amputation in the crash.
The aircraft was formerly operated by Rovos Air as part of a small fleet ferrying passengers on nostalgic air safaris in southern Africa in conjunction with train journeys undertaken by Rovos Rail.
Rovos Rail spokesperson Brenda Vos said the aircraft – a Convair 340 that first flew in 1954 – was acquired by Aviodrome‚ a Dutch Aviation Museum‚ a “couple of months ago”.
“We had tried to launch Rovos Air as an alternative product to our luxury trains but we did not have much success in that space‚” Vos told eNCA on Wednesday.
“We tried to sell the aircraft but there is not much interest in vintage aircraft anymore.”
She said there had not been any safety concerns regarding the plane. “The plane‚ as far as I know‚ had passed all the tests‚” Vos said.
She said it had been carrying a Dutch team and it was due to be taken to the Netherlands.
“The aircraft‚ built in 1954 was donated to Aviodrome by the South African owner‚ Rovos Rail‚” said a post by the museum on its website. The aircraft was expected to fly through Africa and onto Europe to its new home base. The museum had contributed to the €350‚000 cost of preparing the aircraft for the flight‚ which included purchasing spare parts and the cost of the crossing. SundayTimes