Gulf Air said Friday that it has ruled out "for the moment" the suggestion that human error had caused the crash of an Airbus A320 in the Gulf off Bahrain, in which all 143 people on board died.
"For the moment, it is not the pilot error," which caused Wednesday's accident, chief pilot of Gulf Air's A320 fleet, Captain Hameed Ali, told a press conference.
Contrary to reports given by the Bahrain aviation authorities earlier, Ali said the plane had made only one attempt to land before it crashed.
The civil aviation authorities have said several times that the accident happened on its third attempt.
"The plane made only one attempt," Ali said, adding that the pilot requested permission to circle the runway.
"The pilot commenced a go-around ... and the plane disappeared from radar at one nautical mile from the airport," he said.
He said the control tower had not spotted any error in the plane's approach.
"It appeared to be normal; we are still trying to ascertain what went wrong," he said, adding that the pilot was not asked why he wanted to circle the runway.
Ali said the plane had come from Cairo "in good technical condition" and dismissed initial reports that a fire had broken out in one of the plane's engines.
He also said that 37-year-old Ihsan Shakeeb was a veteran pilot.
"The pilot was considered very experienced and he got 6,856 hours, and the minimum required is 4,000 hours," Ali said.
The Gulf Air captain had called the press conference to respond to reports in the Bahrain Tribune and on Emirati state television that pinpointed human error as the cause of the crash.
In the same press conference, Gulf Air director Sheikh Ahmed bin Seif al-Nahyan said the company would be giving each victim's family 25,000 dollars within the next few days.
"The payment will be considered as part of the final settlement of compensation arriving from the accident," Sheikh Nahyan said – MANAMA (AFP)
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