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Cause of Plane Crash That Killed Politicians Revealed After 47 Years

Cause of Plane Crash That Killed Politicians Revealed After 47 Years

The Nomad plane crashed nose-first into the seabed on approach to landing in Sabah state capital Kota Kinabalu, killing all 10 passengers and the pilot.
Malaysia finally declassified a report on a 1976 plane crash that killed several top state politicians, revealing that the Australian-made turboprop was loaded improperly, causing the pilot to lose control. There was no evidence of aircraft malfunction, sabotage, fire or an explosion.

The Nomad plane, made by the Government Aircraft Factories of Australia, crashed nose-first into the seabed on approach to landing in Sabah state capital Kota Kinabalu, killing all 10 passengers and the pilot, according to the 21-page report released Wednesday.

The June 6 crash, known as Double Six because of the date, killed Sabah's Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens and the state's housing and local government minister, finance minister and minister for communication and public works, according to Malaysian news agency Bernama.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said earlier this month that the report would be released, in response to demands from relatives of the victims and the wider public. Officials haven't explained why it was classified for so long.

According to the crash report, the 42-year-old pilot of the Sabah Air plane wasn't under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but one of his previous log books was reported to be burnt, while another was stolen. Records show his performance and training record were "poor" and "marginal," the report said. While the pilot was "reasonably fit," evidence suggests he was tired and had a stomach disorder.

The aircraft was equipped for two pilots, but one of them was removed so that a 10th passenger could get on the plane in Labuan, occupying the co-pilot's seat. The aircraft was carrying luggage from another flight that departed earlier, and incorrect loading affected its center of gravity, according to the report. The pilot didn't notice the incorrect distribution of the load when he took off, it said.

The investigation team included officials from Malaysia's Civil Aviation Department and Air Force, as well as Australian Department of Transport officials. The crash report was prepared on Jan. 25, 1977.
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