Tuesday, May 28

Bin Laden family killed in private jet travelling 40% too fast, probe concludes



A private jet which crashed, killing three members of Osama bin Laden’s family, landed too far down the runway because it was travelling 40% faster than the recommended speed, accident investigators concluded.

The Saudi-registered Phenom 300 jet smashed into an earth bank at the end of the runway at Blackbushe Airport, Surrey, on July 31 last year before becoming airborne and colliding with several parked cars.

The occupants survived the impacts but died from the effects of a fire which began after the wing separated from the fuselage, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said.

Sana bin LadenIts report found that the pilot’s ability to adapt and take on new information as he was landing was impeded due to a “very high workload situation”.

They were his stepmother, Raja Bashir Hashem, 75, her daughter, Sana bin Laden, 53, and another relative, Zouheir Anuar Hashem, 56.

The Jordanian pilot was 58-year-old Mazen Salim Alqasim.

The AAIB’s report into the accident described how the plane took a steep descent which was “significantly above the normal profile” as it approached the airport, after manoeuvring out of the path of a microlight.

Mr Algasim attempted to deploy the jet’s “speedbrakes”, which can increase drag, but they remained retracted as the flaps on the wing were deployed.

As the plane flew over the start of the runway it was travelling at 151 knots indicated airspeed (kias), 40% faster than the target of 108 kias.

“The excessive speed contributed to a touchdown 710 metres beyond the threshold, with only 438 metres of paved surfaced remaining,” the AAIB said.

“From touchdown … it was no longer possible for the aircraft to stop within the remaining runway length.”

The AAIB said the pilot may have been aware of the high speed but believed the landing could be achieved, or he may not have appreciated how fast he was flying, perhaps because he was “fixated on landing”.

Investigators found that the pilot’s “mental capacity could have become saturated” after being exposed to 66 audio warnings, instructions and messages during the three minutes and 32 seconds before reaching the start of the runway.

The report stated: “It is possible that in these circumstances the pilot … fixated on his initial strategy – landing – and lacked the mental capacity to recognise that the approach had become unstable and should be discontinued.”

No technical defects were discovered with the aircraft, the pilot was not found to have any substances in his body which would have reduced his performance and the weather was good, the AAIB noted.

Bin Laden, who claimed responsibility for the September 11 2001 attacks in the United States, is believed to have had more than 50 brothers and sisters and many stepmothers.

His billionaire father, Mohammed, founded a sprawling construction conglomerate awarded many major building contracts in the Sunni kingdom. He died in a plane crash in Saudi Arabia in 1967.

The bin Laden family disowned Osama in 1994 when Saudi Arabia stripped him of his citizenship because of his militant activities.

The al-Qaeda leader was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011.