Maputo — The aircraft of Mozambique Airlines (LAM) which crashed in Namibia on Friday, killing all 33 people on board, was last inspected the day before the accident, according to the LAM Chief Executive Officer, Marlene Manave.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference on Sunday, Manave said that the plane, an Embraer-190, manufactured in Brazil, undergoes routine inspection every 14 days, and the last such inspection was on Thursday. The following day it took off from Maputo for a scheduled flight to Luanda, and never returned.
The Embraer, a 93 seat aircraft, used on LAM's regional and domestic flights, was built in 2012, and entered service with LAM on 17 November that year.
The captain of the aircraft, Herminio dos Santos Fernandes, was an experienced pilot. Manave said the most recent renewal of his licence was on 12 April 2012. His last medical inspection was on 2 September 2013. He had 9,053 hours of flying time, 1,395 of them as the captain of an Embraer.
Manave said that, despite the crash, LAM has every intention of continuing to fly the Maputo-Luanda route. LAM will replace the crashed aircraft and keep flying to Luanda three times a week.
The causes of the accident are as yet unknown. A commission of inquiry will investigate the disaster, formed by representatives of the country where the crash occurred (Namibia), the country where the plane was registered (Mozambique), and the countries of manufacture (Brazil and the United States - the engines were made by the US company General Electric),
“According to the laws of civil aviation, LAM cannot comment on the investigation”, said Manave. “So while the investigation is under way, we shall not speculate on the possible causes of the accident”.
Manave said that LAM's insurance covers not only the plane, but also compensation to the families of the victims.
Meanwhile the Namibian authorities have located all the bodies at the crash site, in the Bwabwata National Park, and have transferred them to Windhoek on board a military aircraft.
Following the disaster, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza has cancelled a visit to France, scheduled for 5-7 December, where he was to have attended a summit in Paris on Peace and Security in Africa.
Guebuza said he intended to remain in Mozambique to accompany the operations to repatriate the bodies of the 27 passengers and six crew members.
A press statement from Guebuza's office said that he had been in contact with his Namibian counterpart, Hifikepunye Pohamba, who gave him details of the Namibian operation to recover the bodies.
There were 16 Mozambicans on board the Embraer (including the six crew members), nine Angolans, five Portuguese, a Brazilian, a Chinese and a French citizen. The list of names will not be made public until all the families have been contacted.