By: CECÍLIA PIRES
A PORTUGUESE Air Force F-16 which crashed in Montreal, near Leiria, on Monday was allegedly doing its first test flight after undergoing maintenance.
The accident is being investigated by the CIAFA, the inspections committee for military plane crashes.
According to Tenente-Coronel Vítor Lopes, the second in Command at the Montreal Air Force (BA5) base where the plane was based, the aircraft was in the hands of an experienced pilot, João Pereira, who has registered more than two thousand hours commanding these types of jets.
Quoted by Lusa news agency, the spokesman said that an investigation is underway into the circumstances leading to the crash.
He said the plane had just undergone maintenance and been fitted with more sophisticated equipment, namely a nigth vision flight system, in line with other aircraft at that base.
“In the last stages of the flight, when preparing to land, the aircraft went out of control, forcing the pilot to eject”, he said.
It is reported that the pilot realised that the aircraft was behaving strangely and some witnesses on the ground said it was making “unusual oscillating movements” before the crash.
The pilot managed to activate the full power speed and placed the plane on a route to a nearby pine grove, away from the residential areas.
“He had been flying for 45 minutes and already reported several anomalies to the base,” Vítor Lopes said.
João Pereira was taken to the Military Hospital in Lisbon, despite not having suffered any injuries, because this is normal procedure and a precautionary measure in these situations.
It is not known when a final report on the accident will be issued or if it will be released to the public.
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