Moroccan Pilot’s Failed Love Affair Blamed for Crash
The co-pilot on a Royal Air Maroc flight sent a distress signal when the pilot directed the plane earthward in a suicide dive that killed 44 passengers and crew, investigators said Thursday.
But she was unable to stop her colleague from carrying out his suicidal impulses.
“Help, help! The captain is . . . ,” co-pilot Sofia Figugui screamed.
Her pleas, registered on flight recorders, were cut off, said French aeronautics officials who examined the communication.
Agence France-Presse, a French news agency, quoted sources close to the inquiry commission as saying the pilot was driven to suicide by a failed love affair.
But Mohamed Mouffid, president of the investigative commission, said he could not confirm the report.
A statement by the commission said pilot Younes Khayati, 32, “disconnected the automatic pilot and directed the aircraft toward the ground.” It cited “the deliberate wish of the pilot to end his life.”
An airline group, the Moroccan Assn. of Navigators, said it was “stupefied” by the conclusions and demanded proof of the allegations.
The plane smashed into the Atlas mountains 10 minutes after takeoff Sunday from the southern city of Agadir for Casablanca.
The dead included an American, a Kuwaiti prince and eight Italians.