Experts Find Flight Recorder, Say No Evidence Of Sabotage In Plane Crash
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Rescue workers found a flight data recorder Wednesday in the wreckage of a West German charter jet, and experts reported no evidence of sabotage or technical failure in its crash, which killed 16 people.
The plane went down Saturday in mountains near the Aegean coastal province of Izmir. The Anatolia News Agency said that the Kurdish National Liberation Front on Monday claimed responsibility for the crash, but the group denied it had done so.
Turkish officials have maintained pilot error caused the crash.
Searchers discovered the flight data recorder two days after they found the cockpit voice recorder, which records conversations among the crew and all radio traffic between the plane and ground controllers.
Ismet Erustun, director-general of the Turkish civil aviation department, said both devices would be sent to Istanbul to determine the cause of the crash.
In Frankfurt, a spokesman for a team of West German experts said all mechanical parts of the aircraft appear to have functioned properly before the crash and there was no evidence of sabotage. The team returned to Frankfurt Wednesday night from Turkey.
The spokesman, Heino Caesar, said that pilot error has not been ruled out, but he said a final determination would take several months.
Mustafa Ozatamer, director-general of Turkish state airports, said Tuesday the plane’s last radio communication with the control tower showed that the pilot sharply reduced altitude when beginning his landing approach, and smashed into a mountainous area.
The plane was bound from Stuttgart, West Germany, to the city of Izmir.
There were 11 Turkish passengers and five West German crew members on the plane, a Boeing 737 from the Condor Company.
Ethnic Kurds, who number about 8 million and live in a region divided among Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, long have fought for an independent nation.
West Germany is a center of Kurdish political activity. An estimated 300,000 to 400,000 Kurds live there and some activists claim the government mistreats them, a charge West Germany denies.