Sabah Air’s Double Six Crash: No Evidence of Sabotage – Declassified Report

KUALA LUMPUR: There was no evidence of sabotage, fire or explosion in the Sabah Air plane crash that killed the then Sabah Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens, along with several members of the state Cabinet in 1976, according to the declassified report on the crash.
The 21-page of report that was released to the public today, concluded that the probable cause of the accident was due to the centre of gravity position well outside the aft limit which caused the control column to run out of forward range as the nose pitched up when the flaps passed through 25 degrees on the final approach to land.
The report also stated that there was no evidence to suggest any failure of the aircraft or its systems prior to the accident, as the aircraft had been maintained in accordance with an approved maintenance schedule and there was also no evidence that the weather conditions contributed in any way to the incident.
The loading of the aircraft was found to be incorrect for the flight in that the centre of gravity position was significantly aft of the aft limit prescribed for this aircraft.
“It was evident from handling information supplied by the manufacturer that there is a point, as the centre of gravity position moves significantly aft of the centre of gravity aft limit, when the forward control column stop position is reached.
“Forward movement of the control column is intended to lower the aircraft nose or prevent the nose from moving up. If the forward stop is reached when the nose of the aircraft is still moving up, then a loss of control must occur because airspeed and stability are lost,” said the report.
In the tragedy, which was also dubbed as ‘Double Six’, an Australian-made Nomad 9M-ATZ aircraft operated by Sabah Air carrying the group on its way from Labuan, crashed in Sembulan district, while approaching Kota Kinabalu International Airport, Sabah, on June 6, 1976 (the reason why it was called the Double Six Tragedy). 
The report also said it was clear that the operating procedures carried out by the company pilots had become quite casual and were certainly not of a professional standard.
“There are specific requirements laid down by the Law that load sheets must be prepared before each public transport flight and a copy left on the ground. This was not carried out on this occasion and indeed it is not clear that any pilot of this company ever raised one,” stated the report.


The investigation team led by the then chief inspector of accidents Civil Aviation Department Omar Saman also found that there was no IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) flight plan filed as required by the Operations Manual for VVIP flights.
“It is quite obvious that many of the procedures listed in the Operations Manual had not been used by the pilots. In addition, Technical Log entries were of such a poor standard as to make the document meaningless,” the report added.
On the pilot, the report found that the 42-year-old pilot was licensed to fly the type of aircraft and there was no evidence that he was suffering the effects of alcohol or drugs apart from an anti-malarial medication called chloroquine.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on April 5 said the decision to reveal the final report of the Double Six Tragedy was made after taking into account the demands of the next of kin as well as the views of the people of Sabah who wanted detailed information about the incident.
On March 8, the media reported that the High Court in Sabah ordered Putrajaya to take the necessary steps to declassify the incident.
Eleven lives were lost in the Double-Six Tragedy, including the senior leadership of the Sabah State Government at the time, namely Fuad (Chief Minister of Sabah); Datuk Peter Joinod Mojuntin (Sabah Housing and Local Government Minister); Datuk Chong Thien Vun (Sabah Minister of Communications and Public Works) and Datuk Salleh Sulong (Sabah Minister of Finance).
Also killed were Datuk Darius Binion (Assistant Minister to the Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah); Datuk Wahid Peter Andau (Permanent Secretary of the Sabah Ministry of Finance); Dr Syed Hussein Wafa (Director of the Sabah Economic Planning Unit) and Ishak Atan (Secretary to the Malaysian Finance Minister).
Apart from them, Corporal Said Mohammad (Personal Bodyguard to the Chief Minister); Johari Fuad Stephens (son of the Chief Minister) and Gandhi J Nathan (pilot of the 9M-FTZ aircraft) were also killed.

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