PILOT FATIGUE MAY HAVE CAUSED AIR FIJI CRASH: REPORT

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 23, 1999 – Radio Australia)---A preliminary report on last month's fatal air crash in Fiji suggests pilot fatigue may have been a factor.

All 17 people aboard the Air Fiji plane were killed when it crashed on the main Fijian island of Viti Levu.

The inquiry, by the Australian Bureau of Air Safety on behalf of the Fijian Government, found that the plane hit a tree while cruising at an unacceptably low altitude.

The aircraft hit the tree at a height of 420 meters (1,386 feet) when it should have been cruising at 1,800 meters (5,940 feet).

The inquiry cites anecdotal evidence that the captain received inadequate rest before reporting for duty on the early morning flight between Suva and Nadi.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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