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Eclipse jet plunges from altitude

Controllers lost contact with an Eclipse EA500 business jet bound for Cape Town, South Africa, at 37,000 feet on Dec. 7, and a fighter pilot scrambled to intercept made visual contact in time to see the owner-flown aircraft in a steep spiral into the ground.

The South African Air Force released an online account Dec. 8, describing the accident flight that ended with the aircraft disintegrating on impact, with no sign of post-crash fire.

The crash may be the first fatal accident involving an Eclipse jet, and is listed as such in the Flight Safety Foundation’s Aviation Safety Network database. Dicks was the sole occupant, according to published newspaper reports.

The South African businessman purchased the six-seat twinjet in 2013, and the jet’s maker noted in a company press release posted online that he used it frequently for business travel around South Africa. That 2013 release identified Dicks, 57, as the first Eclipse owner in South Africa; other media outlets report he was the first Eclipse customer in all of Africa.

Details of the crash were submitted by users of the Flight Safety Foundation’s Aviation Safety Network database. According to that account, the aircraft departed from Lanseria Airport bound for Cape Town International, and began a series of descending right turns after radio contact was lost. The report describes a 3,700 fpm descent into an open field, and notes that hypoxia and pilot incapacitation have been cited as possible causes.

Jim Moore
Jim Moore
Managing Editor-Digital Media
Digital Media Managing Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: Training and Safety, Accident

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