Tragic plane crash claims three lives in Windhoek

Niël Terblanché

Engine failure was the most likely cause of the tragic aircraft crash that occurred in Windhoek late on Friday afternoon.

Three people, Rozanne De Beer-Olivier (33), a pilot who joined Westair in 2017, Ruan van Schalkwyk (24), a pilot who joined Westair in 2023, and Andre-Armand Lubbe (25), an engineer who joined Westair in 2019, were in the Cessna 406 when it crashed into the yard of a house in Rieckmann Street in the Pionierspark neighbourhood at approximately 17:10.

Preliminary investigations indicated that the pilot, who was test-flying the aircraft that belongs to Westair Aviation in Windhoek after a routine mechanical service, attempted to perform an emergency landing after the engines cut out shortly after it took off from the Eros Airport.

The aircraft erupted into flames upon impact, scorching the three people inside beyond recognition, according to the Namibian Police.

Three cars also caught fire and were damaged beyond repair.

Westair Aviation, in a statement, identified the three people who tragically lost their lives, while the company also expressed condolences to all those impacted by the loss.

“Our hearts and deepest sympathies go out to the family and loved ones of Rozanne, Ruan, and Armand,” the company said.

Westair also stated that it is grateful for the public’s ongoing support and the heartfelt messages of condolence it has received since the crash occurred.

The company said that these expressions of sympathy have been a source of comfort during this challenging time.

“We commit to passing these sentiments on to the families of those we have lost,” it said.

Westair also extended its deep appreciation to all the emergency services personnel who responded promptly and professionally to the incident.

“Their dedication and expertise in managing the scene and providing immediate assistance were invaluable during these critical moments. We are immensely grateful for their relentless efforts and the compassion they displayed under such challenging circumstances,” the company said in its statement.

Westair assured everyone of its commitment to providing assistance and support in all investigations in collaboration with aviation safety experts and relevant authorities to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to discover the cause of this event and prevent such an incident from occurring again.

“We will provide updates as more information becomes available and as we are cleared to release it,” the company said.

According to Magnus Abraham from the Directorate of Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigations, the plane’s manufacturer, the United States of America, will receive notification in accordance with international civil aviation protocols.

Experts from that country will be part of the investigations.

“I will now visit the operator, collect and receive all the aircraft and crew documents, as well as from the regulator, and we will be doing the sight investigation together with our counterparts from the USA,” he said.

Abraham stated that the directorate’s facility at Eros Airport will receive the wreckage and conduct thorough investigations there.

He said a preliminary report will be released within 30 days, and the full report will be released in 90 days by the Ministry of Works and Transport.

Toska Sem, executive director of the Namibia Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), stated that her organization is steadfast in its commitment to aviation safety and ensures the implementation of safety measures to prevent similar accidents.

Last year, Namibia saw several aviation accidents, one involving a Robin-44 helicopter crash that resulted in the deaths of Jacques Jacobs and Dirk von Weitz at Swakopmund.

The helicopter did not have a test flight permit to perform the test flight.

In January 2023, another accident occurred outside Rehoboth that claimed the life of a ULF-IE glider pilot.

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