Dubai: The pilot of the cargo plane that crashed in Sharjah on Wednesday is likely to have deliberately nosedived the plane away from a populated area when he realised that the aircraft could not be saved, said another pilot who witnessed the crash.

An Azza Airline Boeing 707 that was leased to Sudan Airways crashed on to a road close to the Sharjah airport on its way to Khartoum on Wednesday, killing all six people on board. Sudanese captain Mohammad Ali, a resident of Sharjah, was flying the plane.



Ramsey Yaseen, the first officer of a commercial airline that flies out of Sharjah, said he was playing golf at Sharjah's Golf and Shooting Club when he realised that the pilot was struggling to take off.

"I noticed it and thought that he was not going to make it," said Yaseen. "I see this all the time with cargo planes. If they are heavy, it often takes the pilot a while to lift the nose of the plane to climb."

Audio: Eyewitness describes the plane struggling to gain altitude
Audio: Ali Al Midfaa' from Sharjah Airport explains why the runway was closed

The plane was in the air but the nose would not lift, he said. According to Yaseen, the pilot then took a 15 to 20 degree turn to the right followed by "a severe turn" to approximately 90 degrees, with the left wing pointing upwards and the right wing pointing down.That led the plane to crash nose first onto the road.

"Since the nose was the first to hit the ground, it is impossible for the pilot to have survived," he said.

"I'm almost positive that the pilot decided to take the plane down there because he knew he was not going to make it. He wanted to prevent the plane from crashing into a populated area so he nosedived onto a quiet road," he said.

"There was an instant fireball, it was huge. Everything was destroyed. The flames went as high as 91 metres. We were around 274 metres away and could feel the heat, so we started running," he said. It only took "about seven to eight seconds" from the time the pilot lost control of the aircraft to the time it crashed, he said.

"The engine was everywhere. We even found two or three pieces of the plane on the golf course."

Ahmad Yaseen, 28, from Pakistan, said he noticed that the pilot was trying to save warehouses in the area.

"The plane took off in front of us but was not balanced in air. I don't think it was the pilot's fault, the plane was probably overloaded. However, I did notice that the pilot tried to save the warehouses which it could have crashed into, and veered it to the barren land on its right," he said.

Albert Dias, who works in Sharjah's SAIF zone, said he saw the crash from his office cafeteria. He reported seeing something "fall off" the plane.

"An aircraft with what appeared to be red and green striped livery took off and a dark grey panel about the size of a motorcycle appeared to have fallen off from the left part of the aircraft," he said.

"The aircraft then swerved gradually to the right and appeared to lose altitude before it was obscured by other buildings from where we were standing. About 10-15 seconds later all we heard was a faint thud followed by the plumes of smoke," he said.

With inputs from Huda Tabrez, Community Web Editor