Gimpo Airport plane crash leaves two dead

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Gimpo Airport plane crash leaves two dead

Two crew members aboard a light aircraft used for aviation training died Sunday evening after the plane crashed immediately following takeoff at Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul, authorities said.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Korea Airport Corporation, the light aircraft, which belonged to Halla Sky Air, crashed near a runway at 6:32 p.m. shortly after losing communication.

“The plane started falling vertically six minutes after departure, which resulted in massive damage to the front of the plane,” an official from the emergency headquarters of the Seoul Regional Office of Aviation said.

The pilot, surnamed Lee, 37, and the aviation radio operator, surnamed Cho, 32, died in the accident.

The plane, a C-172S, was a single-engine propeller light aircraft developed by the U.S.-based Cessna Aircraft Company. The plane was built in November 2000 and can accommodate up to four crew members. The model is widely used for aviation training purposes due to its stable flight capabilities.

The pilot reported training as the flight purpose.

“The weather in Seoul on Sunday afternoon wasn’t suitable for flying since it was snowing quite a lot, but at about 6:30 p.m., when the plane departed, it was barely snowing, and that’s why the airport gave the OK for takeoff,” said a source in the Korea Airport Corporation’s situation room.

After the aircraft lost communication, the Air Force contacted relevant organizations, including the Gimpo International Airport Police. Firefighters from the airport corporation found the plane at 6:55 p.m., 20 minutes after it hit the ground. The aircraft was found in a forested area at the end of runaway 21, near a guard post, at Gimpo International Airport.

A worker from the Korea Airport Corporation said the accident would not affect other flight schedules.

BY HAM JONG-SUN, JHO JIN-HYUNG [shin.sooyeon@joongang.co.kr]

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