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Wednesday, 5 February, 2003, 17:51 GMT
Milan crash blamed on poor pilot skills
Milan's Pirelli tower, damaged after the crash
The crash sparked memories of 11 September
A pilot who flew his plane into a Milan skyscraper was probably unable to handle technical problems he encountered, an investigation has concluded.

But air traffic controllers at Milan's Linate airport also issued "ambiguous, inadequate and contradictory" instructions, said Italy's National Agency of Air Security.

The most likely cause of the incident was the inability of the pilot to adequately control the direction of the plane during the last phase of the flight

Investigators' report
The Swiss pilot, 67-year-old Luigi Fasulo, died in the crash, along with two workers inside the Pirelli tower.

The incident in April 2002 sparked memories of the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Center, although the authorities quickly ruled out terrorism as the cause.

Other theories had included suicide, technical failure or that the pilot had become ill.

Investigators concluded that the suicide theory was "reasonably improbable".

Pilot Luigi  Fasulo
Fasulo was criticised for his flying skills
"The most likely cause of the incident was the inability of the pilot to adequately control the direction of the plane during the last phase of the flight, in which there were technical operating and environmental problems," the agency concluded.

"A technical problem, operational discomfort due to a lack of training and ambiguous, and inadequate and contradictory radio instructions" contributed to the crash, it said.

Mr Fasulo had a history of fllight mishaps, said Adalberto Pellegrino, spokesman for the agency.

As the pilot came in to land, he reported problems with his landing gear and was diverted by air traffic controllers, but received the confusing messages.

Mr Fasulo may then have been blinded by the sun, unable to see the tower looming towards him, investigators believe.

Debris outside Pirelli tower
Debris rained onto the streets
The criticism of the Linate air traffic controllers comes after a runway collision in 2001, in which 118 people died.

A near-miss was reported last month in very similar circumstances, when a plane speeding down the runway towards take-off had to abort the operation because of a light aircraft coming in to land.

There have also been accusations of regular absenteeism from the control tower.

The flight safety agency recommended in its report into the Pirelli tower crash that flights over densely populated areas should be avoided.

The two office workers who died in the plane crash worked for the Lombardy Regional Council.

Mr Fasulo had flown to Milan from Lugano in Switzerland when the crash happened. His son said after the crash that his father had financial worries and may have wanted to kill himself.

See also:

23 Apr 02 | Europe
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18 Apr 02 | Business
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