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Mirage 2000: Pilot’s body retrieved. Most dominant crash cause scenario

The body of the 34-year-old Mirage pilot, Lieutenant Giorgos Baltadoros, was retrieved off the island of Skyros on Friday morning, more than twelve hours after the crash. The mayor of the island told state broadcaster ERT TV that the body was spotted around 9:30 by a fishing boat that was participating in the Search And Rescue operation. The boat crew found also some debris from the the wreck of Mirage 2000.

The body has been transferred to the Air Force hospital in Athens where some tests are to be performed. The funeral is scheduled at Saturday noon in his village by Kastoria.

Greece’s Armed Forces have declared a 3-day mourning.

Search in the area continues, the Mirage wreck is estimated to lay in a depth of 300 meters.

There is intensive search to find the pilot’s seat to which the aircraft black box is attached.

The Mirage 2000-5 crash is reportedly puzzling the members of the Greek Air Force and aviation experts as the aircraft suddenly crashed into the sea within seconds. The pilot did not sent any distress signal to the airport tower, nor did he contact the pilot of the second Mirage with which he was on a mission.

The two Mirage 2000 were returning from a mission where they intercepted Turkish fighter jets violating Greek airspace between the islands of Chios and Lesvos in the Eastern Aegean Sea.

The tragedy chronicle

The two Mirage took off from the air base on Skyros at 11:15 a.m. Thursday.

They flew up over Chios and Lesvos, but the Turkish fighter jets were already back to FIR Istanbul.

For 45 minutes the two Mirage conducted surveillance flight in the area. Then they set to return to Skyros.

From the 20000 ft they flew down to 6000 ft and then to 3000 ft. This is the height where the accident happened.

The weather conditions in the crash area: low cloudiness, Sahara dust and high humidity.

“The pilots were looking for a clear spot in order to fly through the clouds and set to landing,” ERT reported.

At 12:15 the pilot of the second Mirage saw the first crashing into the sea.

Possible Crash Causes

There are two scenarios about the causes that had the Mirage 2000 crash into the sea within seconds and experts investigating the accident have to dig into several questions. there are no recorded conversation with the second Mirage.

The first scenario speaks of a mechanical failure, the second of vertigo (spatial disorientation) and loss of orientation. The second scenario seems to be the most dominant for the time being.

What makes experts wonder are:

  • Why didn’t the pilot with 940 flight hours experience press the button to eject his seat?
  • How comes he had no time to contact his co-flyer or report a problem to the airport tower?
  • Why didn’t he send a distress signal?

Most indications lead to the fact that the pilot flew lower due to the cloudiness in the area. At his point  he lost control and orientation and the aircraft plunged into the sea before he could send a distress signal,” media report adding “he either suffered of something all of a sudden or because of vertigo.”

Speaking to television channels, Greek aviation experts said that in such cases it is most possible not the aircraft that caused the accident but the pilot.

Vertigo in aviation world or spatial disorientation is a condition wherein which an aircraft pilot’s sense of direction contradicts or does not agree with reality. It is a condition wherein which the sufferer is unable to determine the true position of the body and that of the aircraft.One confuses the horizon, the sky and the sea.

Based to aviation vertigo most widely used definition, Spatial Disorientation (SD) refers to the pilot’s: “… [failure] to sense correctly the position, motion or attitude of his aircraft or of him/herself within the fixed coordinate system provided by the surface of the earth and the gravitational vertical”.

Confusion and sensory mismatch that can produce illusions and eventually lead to spatial disorientation. Not having a good visual of the outside can add up to the feeling of confusion and disillusion leading to SD.

A pilot suffering from vertigo does not trust the navigation instruments of the aircraft.

Spatial disorientation is  harsh and tricky and it creates sensory conflicts and illusions.

While vertigo can literally mean dizziness, it is the human’s failure to picture the position relative to the horizon that makes it a truly dangerous problem. This is basically the reason why spatial disorientation is one of the major concerns and issues in the aviation world.

“Statistics show that between 5% and 10% of all general aviation accidents can be attributed to spatial disorientation, 90% of which are fatal.”

The Mirage 2000-5 was purchased in 2007.

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