Two engineers from the Swiss manufacturer of an aircraft that disintegrated in mid-air arrived at the Alentejo crash zone on Tuesday 21st June. Jérôme Louis, the Belgian pilot of the Pilatus PC6 died as he remained in the aeroplane after his skydiving passengers jumped.
The accident on Sunday evening is being investigated by the Portuguese accident authorities. The pilot died and four of the passengers suffered injuries after a sky-diving trip over Ferreira do Alentejo, Beja turned into a nightmare.
The two engineers are helping Portuguese accident investigators find out what caused the aircraft apparently to disintegrate half way to its planned 14,000 feet parachute drop altitude.
As the aircraft started to fall apart, the skydivers jumped and later praised the 27-year-old pilot for his "selfless actions" that ensured the safe exit of his passengers from the disintegrating aircraft.
There were seven parachutists on board and of the four injured, two are in serious condition. Both the badly injured are Portuguese - the nationalities of the other passengers have not been released.
The Pilatus PC6 belonged to 7Air, the company that owns Aero Vip which runs the Portimão:Bragança air service.
The aircraft had a German registration and was under license to a private German operator but was working for 7Air’s Skyfall company which runs flights for well trained, high altitude skydivers.
The survivors said that the aeroplane began to break up in the air, with people on the ground near the crash site at Canhestros saying that they had to avoid falling debris.
The Pilatus PC6 had recently returned to service after a major overhaul.
Both Skyfall and 7Air Group's management regret "deeply the loss of the pilot, a victim of an aircraft accident." "To the bereaved, we send our deep regrets," added 7Air Group whose management hopes the survivors that were injured return to full fitness in the shortest possible time.
Skyfall and The 7Air Group also are working with the authorities, "in order to fully investigate what happened."
GNR police and air accident investigators are looking at the possibility that there had been an explosion on board as the debris was scattered over such a large area and the damage so catastrophic in the air that everyone had to evacuate.
This theory later was backed up by one of the passengers, a fireman, who said there has been a loud bang just before the aircraft started to break up in mid-flight.
Figueira dos Cavaleiros aerodrome.
Skydiving puts huge stress on an airframe; full power to gain altitude, then the open door in flight, into the cold upper air, then back down to the hot airfield, again and again. Older airplanes are mostly used for the sport, often just short of the scrap heap.