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Plane in fatal crash built by high school students

Plane in fatal crash built by high school students

Published: 20 Nov 2012 07:23 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Nov 2012 07:23 GMT+01:00

An ultra-light airplane which lost a wing mid-flight and crashed last week in western Sweden, killing two people, was built in part by high school students, crash investigators have discovered.

Two people died when the small plane crashed near an airstrip in Arvika after one of its wings fell off as the plane was about to land.

Investigators have learned that the plane was built in part by high school students enrolled in a vocational programme at Kattegattgymnasiet in Halmstad in western Sweden.

The plane was never completed, however, and about a year ago, it was sold to four members of a flying club in Arvika, who completed construction of the Zenair CH 701.

On Monday, education officials in Halmstad sent background information about the plane to police in Värmland, who are heading the investigation.

According to reports from the accident site, the plane was flying at a height of between 50 and 75 metres when a wing came loose, causing the plane to crash.

Kattegattgymnasiet bought the plane as a ready-to-assemble model before selling it to the flying club members for 135,000 kronor ($20,000).

"When we examined the wreckage we discovered that the construction of the wing-spar was missing three bolts that were supposed to be steel," investigator Staffan Ekström of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) told the Hallands Nyheter newspaper.

"They were replaced with aluminium rivets."

Ekström believes the accident was caused by the use of the rivets, which failed to withstand the forces put on the wings during the plane's flight.

The investigation into the accident remains ongoing, however, with police yet to determine whether or not to classify it as a manslaughter probe, which would likely be directed at the high school where the plane was partially built.

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

08:03 November 20, 2012 by eltechno
Please. Whatever happens. Do NOT make this a police / manslaughter matter. I am certain the high school students and their teacher already feel terrible about what happened-making this a legal matter will not increase their remorse.

More importantly, this is a perfect teaching moment. What people learn when building difficult things like airplanes is that it is possible to get 99999 things absolutely right but your project fails anyway because of that one thing you got wrong. Gravity is damn unforgiving.

This lesson is seriously important. It teaches us that there is a world with right and wrong answers and no appeals process. The rewards for operating gracefully in this world are substantial. It is the difference between the development level of Sweden and say, Ghana.

Sweden should turn this tragedy into a lecture series for teenagers. Have serious people explain why the original designer specified steel and not aluminum, and what caused the builders to ignore these instructions. Examine the hazards of a project finished by people who didn't start it. Etc.
09:24 November 20, 2012 by Mxzf
It could have been sold without the needed bolts, and the buyers finished it with aluminium rivets.

If it wasn't sold finished the final inspection is still on the buyers - of course depending on the guarantees of the highschool...
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