Doomed plane’s engine lifted out of Baakens Valley

An investigation into the cause of the light aircraft crash in the Baakens Valley earlier this week is still under way, with parts of the plane still being recovered.

At about 9am yesterday, the South African Air Force launched a helicopter to airlift the downed plane’s engine out of the bushes.

Officials said the engine had to be removed from the crash site – in the bushes and on the cliff – for experts to assess the parts.

Pilot Rego Burger, 56, was killed when his Fish Eagle aircraft crashed into the Baakens Valley at about 2.30pm on Monday.

The plane burst into flames on impact in the valley, about 20m from The Knysna luxury apartment complex in Walmer. Most of the wreckage disintegrated in the ensuing fire but some parts – such as a part of the wing – were salvaged.

Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the bulk of the aviation side of the investigation had already been handed over to the SA Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

“They have experts and scene investigators who specialise in these incidents. They know what to look for.

“While the police will investigate the inquest case, this will be done alongside the accident investigators,” she said.

Veteran Port Elizabeth pilot Rego Burger, 56.
Veteran Port Elizabeth pilot Rego Burger, 56.
Image: Supplied

Naidu said only once the investigators’ findings were released would officials know the cause of the accident.

CAA spokesman Kabelo Ledwaba said investigators had arrived in Port Elizabeth on the night of the crash.

Ledwaba said the final accident report would contain the probable cause and recommendations aimed at improving safety levels and preventing a similar accident.

“Investigations can vary in complexity and may at times take a significant time to complete. However, in instances where an investigation takes longer than 12 months, the investigation team would issue an interim statement to indicate progress at that particular point,” he said.

The accident happened shortly after take-off from the Port Elizabeth International Airport. It is believed Burger was heading back to the airport when the plane crashed. 

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