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Video shows final moments before Nature Air crash in Costa Rica

November 26, 2019

A surveillance video released this month by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) shows the final moments of a Dec. 31, 2017 Nature Air flight that crashed shortly after takeoff from Islita Airport, killing all 12 people on board.

The NTSB included the video as part of its factual report on the crash. A final report, which will include further analysis and a probable cause of the incident, is expected to be released in the coming months.

The NSTB, which is conducting the investigation on the request of Costa Rican authorities, describes the surveillance video as follows:

A ground-based video surveillance system installed at the airport captured a portion of the accident airplane’s takeoff and the accident sequence. The airplane appeared within frame for about 25 seconds before the impact and could be seen climbing north on an approximate runway heading then starting a left turn. During the turn, the airplane’s bank angle steepened, and the airplane descended into terrain.

The NTSB says it analyzed the footage to estimate the airplane’s location, orientation and speed.

In the video below, the plane first appears in the upper-right corner of the frame at the 45-second mark:

 

Following the crash, which killed 10 United States tourists, Costa Rica’s Civil Aviation Administration (DGAC) suspended Nature Air’s operations due to personnel shortages. While the airline intended to resume flights, they have not operated scheduled service since.

Nature Air CEO Alex Khajavi, in an early 2019 interview with The Tico Times, accused DGAC of “adversarial” behavior following the crash and said the Costa Rican government had displayed a “disaster of how to manage” a tragedy.

Khajavi alleged DGAC didn’t give Nature Air sufficient time to hire additional pilots and administrators following the crash before suspending its operating license.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Court of Nicoya dismissed a criminal case related to the crash since the accused — the flight’s pilots — had died in the accident. The victims’ families could still pursue a civil case that would explore the possibility of mechanical failure.

Khajavi says Costa Rica’s Technical Council of the Civil Aviation Authority (CETAC)  revoked Nature Air’s operating license in February 2019, following a year-long indefinite suspension.

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