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Friday, 19 April, 2002, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Milan plane crash: What happened
The investigation into why a Rockwell Commander light aircraft hit Milan's Pirelli building killing three people is focusing on three key questions:

  • Why was the plane unable to make an emergency landing at the city's Linate airport?

  • Did the pilot, Luigi Fasulo, intend to commit suicide?

  • Was the plane suffering from some sort of mechanical failure?

A transcript of the final conversation between Fasulo and Air Traffic control at Linate airport obtained by an Italian newspaper has provided the most revealing clues so far.

1515 GMT: Plane takes off from Locarno in Switzerland heading for Milan's Linate airport
1550 GMT: Pilot reports problem with undercarriage to Linate airport controllers
1554 GMT: Plane crashes into the Pirelli building
It records that Fasulo approached the airport and asked for permission to land, saying he had a problem with the plane's landing gear.

However, it then suggests that Fasulo misheard an message to circle the airport, and instead followed an instruction to stay clear of the runway intended for a helicopter which was also attempting to land.

Despite attempts by air traffic controllers and the helicopter to contact Fasulo to point out the mistake, his aircraft flew away from the airport.

Apparently Air Traffic control did not question his actions, assuming he was unable to land.

No distress signal was received from the aircraft, but a few minutes later witnesses reported smoke coming from the vicinity of the Pirelli tower.

Luigi Fasulo
Luigi Fasulo: "A person who loved life"

The chairman of Italy's civil aviation authority Alfredo Roma, said his theory was that Fasulo became unwell or there was a small fire or smoke on board, causing him to lose control of the plane.

One of Fasulo's sons told La Repubblica newspaper he believed his father - beset by heavy debts - had committed suicide.

However this theory has been rejected by other family members, who decribed Luigi Fasulo as "a person who loved life."

See also:

18 Apr 02 | Europe
Plane hits Milan skyscraper
18 Apr 02 | Europe
Milan's moment of terror
18 Apr 02 | Europe
In pictures: Milan plane crash
18 Apr 02 | Europe
History of skyscraper incidents
18 Apr 02 | Business
Markets rattled by Milan plane crash
27 Mar 02 | Americas
US fears Easter attacks in Italy
20 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Italy
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