A deadly accident at a Spanish air force base late last month that claimed the life of 11 Greek and French pilots was not caused by engine failure, as originally suspected, but by a malfunctioning control system in the F-16 that crashed into other planes.
The information comes from a Hellenic Air Force General staff officer, speaking to protothema.gr.
Spanish daily “El Pais”, meanwhile, also reports that the Greek fighter aircraft had damage to its control system. However, the Spanish report does not specify where the failure occurred.
“Sources related to the investigation indicate that even if the sole engine failed during takeoff, the two-seater F-16 would have had to run its course in a straight line and the crew would have been able to control the crash landing”.
During takeoff, considered the most difficult part of the flight, only the Greek F-16 was clearing the runway and for some unknown reason, the aircraft veered to the right. It subsequently made a sharp 45 degree right turn downwards and headed for the hangar, where French and Italian fighter planes were refueling ahead of their scheduled take-offs.
Other than the two Greek pilots that lost their lives, Panagiotis Laskaris and Athanasios Zagkas, nine French pilots also died, some strapped to the cockpit of their aircraft.
“El Pais” also reports that the two Greek pilots managed to pull their ejector seat activation only split seconds before they crashed.