Pilot died after engine failure

A report on the crash that left a young pilot dead when his plane plunged into a fence at the Port Elizabeth Airport in 2015 shows that an unsuccessful forced landing due to engine failure caused his death.

Qianlong “Jerome” Zhang, 22, was killed on impact when the four-seater Piper Cherokee – on loan from 43 Air School in Port Alfred – burst into flames.

This was after he had attempted to turn the plane around and land back on the runway just after take-off.

The engine failure coupled with the pilot’s decision not to land on the remaining runway ahead and the loss of engine power were listed as reasons for his death.

Zhang was piloting the plane from Port Elizabeth to George. It was part of a navigation training exercise.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority, which released the report, Zhang also failed to adhere to emergency procedures.

The report highlights that Zhang’s attempt to return to the airport after engine failure was an impossible turn.

“Pilots are trained never to turn back to the runway after an engine failure unless they have adequate altitude,” the report states. “Whatever his reason, the decision to continue flying, when he still had ample space in which to land, was a fateful one.”

Flight recordings revealed that Zhang’s last words to the air traffic controller were: “My engine is cutting off inside, requesting emergency landing on the runway.”


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