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Qantas pilots severely injured in vintage plane crash

July 13, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Two Qantas pilots were reported to be in critical condition in hospital last night after the crash of a vintage plane near Johannesburg in South Africa left at least two people dead and others badly injured. Online footage appears to show smoke streaming from an engine before the crash.

Many of the 19 people aboard the 64-year-old Convair 340 were pilots. Some were members of a vintage aircraft restoration society.

The injured Qantas pilots were named last night as Ross Kelly and Douglas Haywood – both from Sydney. Kelly is retired and the ABC reported that his wife Lyndal was also on the plane and is also in a critical condition.

The ABC said yesterday it understood the pair were flying the plane, which came down and crashed through a factory.

Both pilots are said to have flown for Qantas for more than 30 years, including as A380 captains. They are reported to be members of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS), an all-volunteer group of aviation professionals and enthusiasts based at Wollongong Airport (YWOL) at Albion Park. Hollywood actor John Travolta donated his vintage Qantas Boeing 707 to HARS last year.

A Qantas statement said: “We were deeply upset to learn that two Qantas pilots, one current and one retired, were onboard the vintage aircraft involved in an accident in South Africa on Tuesday.

“They are currently in hospital being treated for serious injuries.

“This news has shocked the Qantas pilot community and everyone’s thoughts are with the families.

The crashed aircraft

“We’ve reached out and are providing whatever support we can.”

Footage posted online last night appeared to show smoke streaming from one of the plane’s two engines shortly after takeoff, giving rise to speculation that engine failure may have played a part.

The newly restored plane, once flown by Rovos Rail on safari trips (though not since 2009), was to fly to Aviodrome, an aerospace museum in the Netherlands – in a series of short sectors via Zambia, Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, Croatia and Austria.

According to the website “During takeoff from Wonderboom Airport, the aircraft was seen trailing brown smoke from the No.1 engine.

“Eyewitnesses also reported observing flames. The pilot flew a circuit for an emergency landing back on runway 29. It went down about 6 km to the east of the airport. The aircraft impacted a shed and broke up. One of the crew members sustained fatal injuries.”

The Convair 340 (or CV-340) is a variant of the Convair 240 (CV-240), a twin-engined US airliner produced by Convair from 1947 to 1954, initially as a possible replacement for the Douglas DC-3.

Written by Peter Needham

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