How did pilot send SOS text during fatal plunge?

The family of a pilot killed in a plane crash are employing an independent mobile phone expert to determine how he was able to send a text in the seconds before impact.

Friday, 24th April 2015, 9:58 am
The aftermath of the fatal crash on Hedges Farm

Muhammad Naviede, 60, died on August 20 last year when his Piper Tomahawk aircraft came down in fields on Hedges Farm just off the A413, north of Padbury.

He set off from Elstree but the plane was flying close to Buckingham when it entered into a spin ‘from which it did not recover’.

It was revealed in a report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) - published on April 9 - that Mr Naviede frantically sent a text to a relative as the plane was spinning out of control.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Muhammad Naviede

The report tells how a detailed examination of the wreckage was carried out and investigators found no evidence of engine failure.

But most interestingly, it notes a ‘most unusual feature’, referring to the fact Mr Naviede was able to send the 148-character 
text message in just 25 seconds.

He was headed for Turweston Aerodrome, but the plane encountered difficulties over Leighton Buzzard and he tried to use his mobile phone to make calls.

The report says: “ A SMS from the pilot’s phone was sent to the relative’s mobile phone, the text included the words’...I’m in a plane out of control and it’s going down...’

In a pre-inquest review at Buckinghamshire Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, the coroner heard that Mr Naviede’s family ‘have issues’ with some aspects of the report.

And their solicitor said they were in the process of appointing a mobile phone expert to determine whether the text message was input manually or via the pilot’s headset.

The family’s solicitor also expressed their wishes for all the witnesses that saw Mr Naviede’s plane in trouble - including a 12-year-old boy - to stand at the full hearing.

Robert Carter, who was representing the AAIB, said there would need to be at least four experts from the AAIB present at the full hearing to explain different aspects of the report.

But he was concerned over the logistics of ensuring all four were free on the same day.

Senior coroner Richard Hulett said: “This is an extremely complex and challenging case.

“And there are large chunks of it that some would not understand, so I would not want to go short on that.

“I’m going to be very cautious and make sure we have the full picture.”

Mr Naviede was father to Raquelle Gracie, who earned fame in 2007 when her band Hope appeared on the X-Factor.

Gracie - who uses her mum’s maiden name - finished 5th in X Factor in 2007 with girl-group Hope after they were put together at boot camp.

After the show, the five girls toured with Westlife and Boyzone and recorded an unreleased track with Pharrell Williams.

Mr Naviede was a former city trader and was once valued at £117 million.

But he was jailed for nine years in 1995 for a £45 million fraud. Due to the family’s wishes to instruct an aviation and mobile phone expert, the full inquest in Mr Naviede’s death is due to be heard in early September.