Escaped Crocodile May Have Led To Crash

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Testimony at a coroner's inquest in England has revived a disputed theory that a crocodile on the loose may have led to the crash of a Filair Let-140 regional airliner in Africa in 2010. The aircraft crashed near Bandundu, Congo, killing 19 of the 20 passengers and crew on board. The inquest was told that a passenger had apparently carried the two- to three-foot reptile onto the aircraft and it escaped from the bag it was in. It startled a member of the crew, who ran forward to the cockpit and that started a stampede of passengers to the front. The sudden weight shift pitched the aircraft down and it crashed into an earthen house.

The crocodile theory was advanced early in the initial investigation but was discounted. At the inquest, the coroner's jury heard that the father of one of the crew members was in contact with a crash investigator in the Congo who had discussed the crocodile theory. Although the crocodile theory makes good headlines crash investigators said they couldn't come up with a definitive cause and determined the most likely scenario was a low-altitude stall-spin. Coroner David Dooley said at the inquest that problems with witnesses and technical evidence precluded determining a definitive cause and "all we have are possibilities rather than probabilities."