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Cablegate: Crash of Atlasjet Flight From Istanbul to Isparta, Turkey

VZCZCXRO7892
OO RUEHDA
DE RUEHAK #2865/01 3341712
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 301712Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4503
INFO RUEHBS/FAA BRUSSELS BE IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/TSA HQ WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEBBEA/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 2492
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 3581

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 002865

SIPDIS

FAA BRUSSELS FOR KURT EDWARDS
ATHENS PLEASE PASS TSA FOR DAN FURLONG

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAIR ASEC TU
SUBJECT: CRASH OF ATLASJET FLIGHT FROM ISTANBUL TO ISPARTA, TURKEY
30 NOVEMBER, 2007

Sensitive But Unclassified. Please handle accordingly.

SUMMARY OF EVENTS
-----------------

1. (SBU) Summary: An Atlasjet flight from Istanbul to Isparta,
Turkey crashed 12 km from the Isparta Airport at approximately 01:45
local time on 30 November, 2007. The plane was a McDonald-Douglas
83. The remains of all 57 onboard have been located by Search and
Rescue teams. The pilot, Serhat Ozdemir, is reported by his sister
to be a naturalized U.S. Citizen, but we have been unable to confirm
this. The cause of the crash has not been determined but has been
speculated as either mechanical failure or pilot error. NTSB, FAA,
Boeing and Pratt and Whitney Engines representatives will arrive in
Antalya, Turkey on 2 December to assist with the investigation.
Turkish Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGCA) Director Ali
Ariduru spoke personally with us on the evening of 30 November and
asked specifically that NO U.S. AGENCY ANNOUNCE AT THIS TIME OUR
ASSISTANCE WITH THE INVESTIGATION. We agreed to respect DGCA's
wishes as they deal with press speculation. End summary.

DGCA PRESS STATEMENT
--------------------

2. (U) The following is a grammatically-corrected version of the
Turkish DGCA's press release about the crash:

The MD 83, TC-AKM registered aircraft with 165 seat capacity was
operated by World Focus Airlines and wet leased by Atlasjet Aviation
Corporation. Following the aircraft's take off from Istanbul
Ataturk Airport at 00:51 local time, communication was interrupted
with the aircraft at final approach to Isparta Suleyman Demirel
Airport at 01:45 local time. There were 2 pilots, 4 cabin crew, 1
technician and 49 passengers in the aircraft.

The aircraft crashed at Turbe Tepe, located 12 km from the Isparta
Airport between Cukuroren and Yenitepe villages southwest of
Keciborlu. A Search and Rescue (SAR) team has been moved to the
area by the Isparta governorship. At the moment there are Police
and Turkish Air Force helicopters at the wreckage area. A Turkish
DGCA Accident Investigation Team has moved to the wreckage area.

Crisis Centers formed at the DGCA and in Istanbul and Isparta are
following the situation.

Progression of events on 30 November, 2007:

06:55 SAR teams arrived at the crash site. According to the first
investigation, no survivors were found. Medical teams and
ambulances moved to the area. Dr. Ali Ariduru, DGCA Director
General, and Orhan Birdal, Acting Director General of the State
Airports Administration, arrived at the site.

08:45 Minister of Transport Binali Yildirim arrived in Isparta with
two DGCA Accident Investigation Experts.

10:30 Yildirim, together with Isparta Governor Semsettin Uzun and
accompanying officials, arrived at the crash site.

The Accident Investigation Team at the site is comprised of 2
captain pilots, 3 engineers and 1 air traffic controller.

12:00 The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and the Flight Data Recorder
(FDR) were found at the crash site and an investigation is being
performed by the DGCA Accident Investigation Team.

12:20 An Atlasjet flight transporting the victims' families arrived
at Isparta airport.

12:50 53 of 56 people who lost their lives in the aircraft were
found by the SAR operations.

13:30 According to the Passenger Manifest, 49 passengers and 1
infant were in the aircraft, raising the total number of casualties
to 57. All victims have been found by the SAR. End text.

CAUSE OF CRASH UNKNOWN AT THIS TIME
-----------------------------------

3. (SBU) The cause of the crash has not been determined at this
time. Speculation and the images of the wreckage suggest either
mechanical failure or pilot error. Representatives from the

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National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB), the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA), Boeing and Pratt and Whitney Engines will
arrive in Antalya, Turkey on Sunday, 2 December to assist with the
investigation. They will be met and assisted by representatives
from the Turkish DGCA during their time in Turkey. TURKISH DGCA
DIRECTOR GENERAL ARIDURU SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED THAT NO ANNOUNCEMENT
BE MADE AT THIS TIME BY ANY USG AGENCY THAT WE WILL ASSIST WITH THE
INVESTIGATION.

ONE POSSIBLE AMCIT ONBOARD
--------------------------

4. (SBU) Media reports quote the sister of the aircraft's captain,
Serhat Ozdemir, who says that Ozdemir lived in the U.S. and
subsequently became a naturalized American citizen. We have been
unable to confirm his citizenship and believe that the sister might
be mistaken. His next of kin reside in Izmir, Turkey and Consular
officer are therefore not needed to provide death notification or
repatriation of remains.

Wilson

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