An Istanbul court has ordered the arrest of the captain pilot of a Pegasus Airlines plane that skidded off a runway at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen International Airport earlier this month, killing three people and injuring 179 aboard.
Mahmut Arslan was sentenced on charges of “causing death and injury by negligence” before being taken to Maltepe Prison in Istanbul.
The plane flying to Istanbul from the Aegean province of İzmir veered off the end of the wet runway while landing on Feb. 5.
The plane drifted around 50 meters and the nose of the plane almost completely separated from the rest of the fuselage, which burst into flames following the crash.
Arslan, who was discharged from the hospital where he was being treated, was brought to the Anatolian Court of Justice on Feb. 24.
He sustained fractures in his spine and ribs during the accident and was able to appear before the court three weeks after the crash.
Prosecutors had previously taken statements from air traffic control staff, airport employees and the pilots of two other planes that aborted landings shortly before the Pegasus flight landed.
Expressing that a strong lightning strike hit the plane when it was about to land, Arslan said in court that the first officer reported to the technical department of the Pegasus company that the plane was hit by a lightning bolt.
Stressing that the tracks on the runway also should be cleaned periodically, otherwise it would cause slippage, Arslan noted that the plane may have slid due to this.
The speed of the plane was 84 knots due to the rear wind and did not slow down, prompting the pilots to brake manually six seconds after noticing this, the captain pilot said, adding that the detection of this abnormality normally should have been done by the first officer.
The cause of the accident is not yet clear, but the initial findings reveal that the crash may have occurred due to hydroplaning.
Water formed due to heavy rainfall on the day of the crash on the runway may have prevented the plane’s contact with the runway as the landing gear tires hit the ground.
The crash happened as the 11-year-old aircraft landed in strong winds and heavy rain. U.S. aviation investigators have also inspected the wreckage to see if there were any technical factors that could have contributed to the accident.
Pegasus has had several recent instances of overshooting runways.
Another Pegasus Airlines plane skidded off the runway at the same airport on Jan. 7, causing the temporary closure of the airport. There were no injuries.
In January 2018, another Boeing 737 in the Pegasus fleet slid off a runway at Trabzon Airport in northeastern Turkey. The plane came to rest in the dirt above the Black Sea with its nose pointed toward the water. No one was injured.
Hurriyet Daily News