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Aircraft that killed two people on Almada beach 'had no engine power'

aircraftAlmadaBeachA report from the Office of Aircraft Accident Prevention and Investigation states that the instructor of a Cessna 152, "made several attempts to start the engine" but was unsuccessful after it had cut out just minutes after taking off, later killing two people on the Costa da Caparica beach in Almada, south of Lisbon, where it made an emergency landing.

The engine had stopped four minutes after take-off, after the aircraft "was hit by a very strong upward current."

This description of events is contained in an official report on the accident, which also states that the instructor made several attempts to start the engine.

The Cessna 152 took off from the Municipal Aerodrome of Cascais at 15:42 on August 2nd, heading to Évora on a training flight. On board were an instructor and a trainee.

"At 15:46, while crossing the Tagus River, the aircraft was hit by a very strong upward current. At that time, the engine stopped working. The instructor made several attempts to start the engine and at the same time took over the operation of the aircraft, reducing the speed and tried to reach a possible emergency landing point," reads the report.

The information note says that "keeping the speed and the rate of descent constant, the instructor was able to fly the aircraft to an emergency landing in the sand strip of the beach which was full of bathers."

"The aircraft approached quietly and the crew, by turning on the lights, sought to catch people's attention.”

At the time of the emergency landing, the light aircraft jumped "at least three times" and "crashed into two people" who died on the beach. The victims were a 56-year-old man and an eight-year-old girl.

The two flyers were interviewed the day after the accident by a public prosecutor in the court of Almada.

The Attorney General's Office issued a communiqué stating that the pilot and trainee "are guilty of a possible crime of negligent homicide," adding that the inquiry will be subject to judicial secrecy.

In the information note, the authors note that the Office of Aircraft Accident Prevention and Investigation’s responsibility "is only to identify the causal and contributing factors involved in accidents, with a view to the possible issuance of recommendations for prevention and improvement of civil aviation safety."

The authors stress that the investigation "is independent and distinct from any judicial or administrative proceedings aimed at establishing guilt or apportioning blame."