Debris from a Learjet that crashed following a collision with a German Air Force Eurofighter lies on the ground near Elpe, Germany. (Sascha Schuermann / Getty Images)
BONN — Investigators from the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation said they have found the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder from a Learjet that crashed after colliding with a Eurofighter during a Monday exercise. Recorded data from the two Eurofighter jets involved in the incident also has been saved to reconstruct the flight paths.
One of the two crewmembers onboard the Learjet has been declared dead. The fate of the second has not been announced.
The bureau said that according to initial findings, the civil-licensed Learjet 35A business aircraft and the two Eurofighters were conducting an interception exercise when one Eurofighter touched the Learjet, which crashed, scattering debris for some 100 meters.
The fighter jet that collided with the Learjet was able to reach its home air base in Nörvenich, northwest of Cologne, and sustained damage.
The second, undamaged Eurofighter landed safely at the German Air Force base at the civil Cologne/Bonn airport. Both aircraft are part of the Tactical Fighter Wing 31, based at Nörvenich.
Besides the civil investigation bureau, the military General Aviation Safety is also investigating.
In addition, the prosecutors office in Arnsberg has started a manslaughter investigation.
The civil aircraft was operated by the German company Gesellschaft für Flugzieldarstellung, (Company for Aerial Target) in Hohn, in northern Germany. The German Air Force charters such planes for target practice to train its jet crews, for instance for renegade incidents. The company is a subsidary of Airbus Defence and Space. It operated 11 Learjet 35s and two Learjet 31s. According to a company spokesman, nearly all of it flights are done for the German Air Force.
In addition to renegade plane exercises, they are also used in towed aerial target exercises. ■