Authorities Cite Faulty Altimeter as Cause of Amsterdam Plane Crash | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 04.03.2009
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Authorities Cite Faulty Altimeter as Cause of Amsterdam Plane Crash

Investigators said that a faulty altimeter was the most likely cause of last week's crash of a Turkish Airlines plane at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. The accident left nine people dead and more than 80 injured.

Wreckage from the crash

Dutch authorities said that the plane had experienced altimeter problems in the past

Dutch Safety Board chairman Pieter van Vollenhoven said Wednesday, March 4, that examination of the so-called "black box" flight data recorder revealed that the Boeing 737-800's left altimeter was faulty.

Boeing said in a statement it was "issuing a reminder to all 737 operators to carefully monitor primary flight instruments during critical phases of flight."

The pilots, all three of whom were killed in the crash, failed to notice the fault until it was too late. That was due to the foggy conditions, Vollenhoven told reporters, adding that a warning was issued to Boeing, the plane's maker.

Vollenhoven said the altimeter had shown the plane to be at 1,940 feet but that it was in fact at 700 feet.

Similar problems in past

The front of the plane in a field

The plane crashed in a muddy field near Schiphol Airport

Announcing the preliminary results of the Dutch investigation, he said the same flight had experienced the same problems with a faulty altimeter twice in its last eight landings.

Vollenhoven said media reports that there may have been a fuel cut on the plane were incorrect and that recordings of communication between the pilots and aircraft controllers proceeded as for any normal landing.

Flight TK 1951 crashed into a field about 500 meters short of a runway at Amsterdam's main airport on Feb. 25. Of the 134 people on board flight TK 1951, nine were killed and 86 injured. Vollenhoven said 28 of the injured were still in hospital.

Ahmet Izgi of the Turkish Pilots' Association said the initial findings of the report showed that there was nothing the pilots could do to avoid disaster.

"In normal conditions it would have been obvious to the pilots that the altimeter was wrong," Izgi told NTV television. "I can say with confidence that if there was no fog this would not have happened."

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