Turkey: Another Plane Crash

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Friday, May 18, 2001

Turkish military cargo plane crashes

By SELCAN HACAOGLU-- Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- A military cargo plane crashed during a final test flight Friday, killing four people, reports said, just two days after the same type of aircraft plunged into a field in Turkey's worst military air disaster.

The CASA CN-235 crashed a few minutes after takeoff Friday from Etimesgut air base outside Turkey's capital, Ankara, private NTV television said.

Two Spanish pilots, a Spanish technician and a Turkish technician were killed, private CNN-Turk television said. Spanish Embassy spokesman Guillermo Corral confirmed the deaths of the three Spaniards.

It was the third crash in Turkey involving a CASA aircraft this year. Thirty-four military personnel were killed Wednesday, and three died in a crash during a training mission in January.

"There is a need for a hard and serious investigation, which I believe is under way," Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said.

The military ordered all CASA aircraft grounded Friday, except for those used in emergencies, NTV television said.

The plane was one of nine being modified by Turkish Aerospace Industries for the navy and was on its final test flight, CNN-Turk said. The modified CASA CN-235 was to be delivered to the navy in June for use as a coastal patrol aircraft.

Just two days earlier, the same type of plane plunged into an apricot-and-beet field near Malatya, about 410 miles southeast of Ankara, killing 28 soldiers and six crew members in the Turkish military's worst air disaster.

Military experts were studying data from the plane's black box to determine the cause of Wednesday's crash. One military official blamed technical malfunction.

Funerals were being held throughout Turkey on Friday. Most of those killed Wednesday were commandos from an elite force.

The Spanish-designed two-engine propeller CASA aircraft are manufactured in Turkey and are the army's preferred light transport aircraft. The Turkish army has some 50 CASA planes.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), May 19, 2001

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