MAPUTO, — The report of the Commission of Inquiry into the crash of the Embraer 190 aircraft of Mozambique Airlines (LAM) on Namibian soil on Nov 29, 2013 has concluded that the pilot, Herminio dos Santos Fernandes, deliberately crashed the plane, according to a report broadcast by the independent television station, STV.

The plane was on a scheduled flight from Maputo to Luanda. All 33 crew and passengers on board died when the plane crashed in Namibia’s Bwabwata National Park.

The report into the crash was compiled by Theo Shilongo, deputy director of the directorate of aircraft accident investigations, who was the investigator in charge, and Hafeni Mweshixwa as the co?investigator. It was signed off by Namibia’s Works and Transport Minister, Alpheus Naruseb.

The report, summarised in the Windhoek newspaper, The Namibian, said that an hour and 50 minutes into the flight, the first officer left the cockpit for the lavatory and only Fernandes remained on the flight deck. The cockpit door was then automatically locked, and there were no further conversations in the cockpit.

“The input on the auto flight systems by the captain caused the aircraft to depart from cruise flight to a sustained controlled descent and subsequent collision with the terrain,” the report said.

The report found that Fernandes manually changed the aircraft’s altitude setting three times from 38,000 feet cruising altitude to the final setting of 592 feet above sea level — which is below ground level at Bwabwata.

The report also said that the actions performed by Fernandes “indicate explicit knowledge of the aircraft’s systems and specifically the automatic flight control system, as the entire descent was conducted with the autopilot engaged and no force applied to the control columns”.

The report looked into the professional history of Fernandes, and found that the 49-year-old pilot had 9,052 hours of flying time, of which 2,519 hours were on the Embraer 190.

On Nov 26, he had flown from Maputo to the western Mozambican city of Tete and back, and the following day he piloted a flight from Maputo to Johannesburg and back. He was not working the day immediately prior to the fatal flight to Luanda.

The report added that although information on the financial and insurance position of Fernandes was requested from Mozambique “this information could not be obtained due to bureaucracy and legal hassles before the finalisation of the report”.

But when STV interviewed Mozambican Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita, he claimed that the report was not definitive, and he spoke, not of pilot suicide but of “human error”.

“The conclusions of the report indicate that the probable cause of the accident was human error. If new materials appear which merit deeper analysis, resort may be had to them to make an assessment and reach a definitive conclusion. What is in the final report is the probable cause,” he added.