An accident involving a small plane with 4 passengers occurred resulting in the death of the pilot and his assistant. Image Credit: DMO

Dubai: Residents reported seeing a light aircraft around Ras Al Khor and International City a short time before Thursday’s plane crash in Mushrif Park, which killed all four people onboard.

A South African and three Britons died in the incident, which happened on Thursday evening, while the four-seater Diamond DA42 aircraft was out on a mission to calibrate terrestrial navigation systems at Dubai International Airport as part of ongoing runway renovations.

Honeywell, the firm initially named as the owner of the aircraft, confirmed that one of their employees was onboard but they said the aircraft was owned and operated by a third party.

“We are deeply saddened by the news that a small, chartered plane crashed in Dubai yesterday (Thursday) evening and our heartfelt condolences are with the victim’s families,” read a statement from the US-based conglomerate involved in aerospace. “The plane was not owned or operated by Honeywell but by a third party engaged by Honeywell,” the statement added.

No comment from company

UK-based Flight Calibration Services Limited (FCSL) are believed to be the company that owned and operated the aircraft as they had announced in November that they had won the contract to help calibrate navigation systems at Dubai Airport during runway renovation works.

When Gulf News called FCSL for comment on Friday, a spokesperson said: “At the appropriate time our director will issue a statement but at the moment it’s no comment.”

We are deeply saddened by the news that a small, chartered plane crashed in Dubai yesterday (Thursday) evening and our heartfelt condolences are with the victim’s families.

- Statement from Honeywell

Mohammad Hamthan, an Indian resident in Ras Al Khor told Gulf News: “I saw a small white plane at around 6.45pm and they were doing rounds. I saw them rounding twice not so far from the ground at a height of say 35 per cent of the Burj Khalifa. I thought they were playing because I’m used to seeing planes from a afar but this was a little close.”

Shadab Ali, an Indian resident in International City added: “I was standing on my balcony at around 7pm and a small aircraft passed by quite low in the direction of Hatta from Shaikh Zayed Road. It was about 20 storeys off the ground. I kept looking and there were no signs of disturbance or distress, no visible signs of any issue, it was very smooth. Then it leant slightly to its left and went in the direction of Mushrif Park. The turn wasn’t sharp but gradual, as is typical of an aircraft. I followed it for about 15-20 seconds until I couldn’t see it anymore. I thought it was doing a recce, aerial photography or something like that.”

Dubai International Airport was closed from 7.36pm to 8.22pm on Thursday during the incident. Soon after the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) confirmed normal service had resumed at the airport, while offering condolences to the victim’s families and thanking police and ambulance for their quick response.

”The General Civil Aviation Authority will investigate the accident to establish its causes in accordance with international standards and best practice,” the GCAA tweeted.

Mushrif Park was closed to visitors on Friday and is expected to reopen on Saturday.