Turkey probes pilots over deadly plane crash

People work at the Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-86J plane wreckage, after it overran the runway during landing and crashed, at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport, Turkey, on Feb 6, 2020.
People work at the Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-86J plane wreckage, after it overran the runway during landing and crashed, at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport, Turkey, on Feb 6, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

ISTANBUL (AFP) - Turkey will investigate two pilots for possible negligence after their plane skidded off an Istanbul runway killing three passengers, state media reported Thursday (Feb 6).

A total of 174 passengers and six crew were injured after the Boeing 737, operated by Turkish low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines, flew into Sabiha Gokcen airport from the western city of Izmir late on Wednesday.

Istanbul's prosecutor will probe the pilots on suspicion of causing death and injury through negligence, the TRT broadcaster reported.

The pilots are among those in hospital and will give statements to police after their treatment is complete, the channel added.

The plane landed in heavy wind and rain, and slid 60m off the end of the runway before falling 30-40m down a bank, Istanbul's governor said.

Sabiha Gokcen airport was briefly closed after the incident, Pegasus CEO Mehmet Tevfik Nane told reporters.

Nane said 56 people had been discharged from hospitals and the aircraft's black box was being examined for clues to the cause of the crash.

"Such accidents occur not because of one factor but many factors," he said.

The airline's planes were relatively new, with an average age of 5.3 years, and that "their technical reliability is very high", Nane added.

Pegasus, which has been flying for 20 years, has a fleet of 83 aircraft, including 47 Boeings and 36 Airbus planes, according to its website.

Two years ago, a Pegasus Boeing 737-800 slid down an embankment at Trabzon airport in northern Turkey, and landed just metres from the water with its wheels stuck in mud.